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THAT the faithful may approach the Sacraments with greater 
reverence and devotion, the Holy Synod commands all Bishops not 
only to explain, in a manner accommodated to the capacity of the 
receivers, the nature and use of the Sacraments, when they are to 
be administered by themselves ; but also to see that every Pastor 
piously and prudently do the same, in the vernacular language, 
should it be necessary and convenient. This exposition is to accord 
with a form to be prescribed by the Holy Synod for the adminis 
tration of all the Sacraments, in a Catechism, WHICH BISHOPS WILL 


* Cone. Trid. Sess. 24. de Reform, c. 7 

t n. 



THE ROMAN CATECHISM, of which an English translation is now sub 
mitted to the public, was composed by decree of the Council of 
Trent ; and the same venerable authority commands all Bishops " tc 
take care that it be faithfully translated into the vernacular lan 
guage, and expounded to the people by all pastors." l 

The Fathers of the Council had examined with patient industry, 
and, in the exercise of their high prerogative, had denned, with un 
erring accuracy, the dogmas of faith which were then denied or dis 
puted : but the internal economy of the Church, also, solicited and 
engaged their attention ; and accordingly, we find them employed 
in devising measures for the instruction of ignorance, the ameliora 
tion of discipline, and the reformation of morals. 

Amongst the means suggested to their deliberative wisdom for the 
attainment of these important ends, the Roman Catechism has been 
deemed not the least judicious or effective. The ardour and industry 
of the " Reformers" were actively employed, not only in the publi 
cation of voluminous works, " to guard against which required, per 
haps, little labour or circumspection;" but, also, in composition of 
" innumerable smaller works, which, veiling their errors under the 
semblance of piety, deceived with incredible facility the simple and 
the incautious." 2 To meet the mischievous activity of such men, 
and to rear the edifice of Christian knowledge on its only secure and 
solid basis, the instruction of its authorized teachers ; to afford the 
faithful a fixed standard of Christian belief, and to the Pastor a pre 
scribed form of religious instruction ; to supply a pure and perennial 
fountain of living waters to refresh and invigorate at once the Pastor 

I Cone. Trid. Sess. 24. de Reform, cap. 7. 2 p re f. page 15 



and the flock, were amongst the important objects contemplated by 
the Fathers of Trent in the publication and translation of the 
Roman Catechism. l 

They, too, are amongst the objects, which were contemplated by 
those, who urged the present undertaking, and which influenced the 
Translator s acceptance of the task. Coincidence of circumstances 
naturally suggests a concurrence of measures ; and it requires little 
discernment to discover the coincidence that exists between the pre 
sent circumstances of this country and those which awakened and 
alarmed the vigilance of the Fathers of Trent. Ireland, indeed the 
Empire, has been inundated with pernicious tracts, teeming with 
vituperative misrepresentations of the dogmas of the Catholic faith, 
and loaded with unmeasured invective against the principles of 
Catholic morality. " Innumerable smaller works, veiling their errors 
under the semblance of piety," have been scattered with unsparing 
hand " amongst the ignorant and incautious :" efforts are still made 
(the object is avowed) " to promote the principles of the Reforma 
tion," by unsettling the religious convictions of the people ; and we 
are fortified by the example of the Fathers of Trent in the hope, that 
an antidote eminently calculated to neutralize the poison, which has 
been so industriously diffused, to abate prejudice, instruct ignorance, 
promote piety, and confirm belief, will be found in a work containing 
a comprehensive summary of the dogmas of the Catholic faith, and a 
no less comprehensive epitome of the principles of Catholic morality 

To another, and, happily, an increasing class of the community, 
the present volume cannot fail to prove a useful acquisition to those 
who, anxious only for truth, desire to know the real principles of 
Catholics, could they arrive at a knowledge of them through the me 
dium of a compendious and authoritative exposition. Whilst inquir} 
struggles to burst the bonds in which prejudice and interested mis 
representation have long bound up its freedom, and would still oppres: 
its energies, it would not become Catholics to look on with in 
difference. We owe it to truth, to aid these growing efforts of en 
lightened reason : the voice of charity bids us assist the exertions of 
honest inquiry : we owe it to our ourselves to co-operate in removing 
the load of obloquy under which we still labour ; and, if it were pos 
sible for us to be insensible to these claims, there is yet an obligation 
from which nothing can exempt us it is due to religion to make hei 
known as she really is. To these important ends we cannot, per 
haps, contribute more effectually, than by placing within the reach 

l Pre pages 13, 14. 


of all, a Work explanatory of Catholic doctrine, and universally ac 
knowledged authority in the Catholic Church. l 

To the Pastor, upon whom devolves the duty of public instruction, 
the " Catechismus ad Parochos" presents peculiar advantages. In its 
pages he will discover a rich treasure of theological knowledge, admi 
rably adapted to purposes of practical utility. The entire economy 
of religion he will there find developed to his view the majesty of 
God, the nature of the divine essence the attributes of the Deity, 
their transcendent operations the creation of man, his unhappy 
fall the promise of a Redeemer, the mysterious and merciful plan 
of redemption the establishment of the Church, the marks by which 
it is to be known and distinguished the awful sanction with which 
the Divine Law is fenced round, the rewards that await and animate 
the good, the punishments that threaten and awe the wicked the 
nature, number and necessity of those supernatural aids instituted 
by the Divine goodness to support our weakness in the arduous con. 
flict for salvation the Law delivered in thunder on Sinai, embracing 
the various duties of man, under all the relations of his being finally, 
the nature, necessity and conditions of that heavenly intercourse that 
should subsist between the soul and its Creator; the exposition of 
that admirable prayer composed by the Son of God all this, com 
prehending as it does, the whole substance of doctrinal and practical 
religion, and at once instructive to Pastor and people, the reader will 
find in the " Catechismus ad Parochos," arranged in order, expound 
ed with perspicuity, and sustained by convincing argument. 

Besides a general index, one pointing out the adaptation of the 
several parts of the Catechism to the Gospel of the Sunday will, it is 
hoped, facilitate the duty of public instruction, and render this Cate 
chism, what it was originally intended to be, the manual of Pastors. 

Such are the nature and object of the present work : a brief sketch 

1 On this subject the following ol>servations, from the pen of a Protestant Clergyman, are as 
candid as they are just : " The religion of the Roman Catholics ought always, in strictness, to 
he considered apart from its professors, whether kings, popes, or inferior bishops; and its tenets, 
and its forms, should be treated of separately. To the acknowledged creeds, catechisms, and 
other formularies of the Catholic Church, we should resort for a faithful description of what 
Roman Catholics do really hold, as doctrines essential to salvation ; and as such held by the 
faithful in all times, places, and countries. Though the Catholic forms in some points may 
vary in number and splendour, the Catholic doctrines cannot; though opinions may differ, 
and change with circumstances, articles of faith remain the same. Without a due and constant 
consideration of these facts, no Protestant can come to a right understanding respecting the 
essential faith and worship of the Roman Catholics. It has been owing to a want of this dis 
crimination, that so many absurd, and even wicked tenets, have been palmed upon our brethren 
of the Catholic Church: that which they deny, we have insisted they religiously hold; that 
which the best informed amongst them utterly abhor, we hava held up to the detestation of 
mankind, as the guide of their faith, and the rule of their actions. This is not fair: it is not 
doing to olhers as we would have others to do unto us." The Religions of all \ations, by the 
Rev. J. Nightingale, j. 12. 


of its history must enhance its worth, and may, it is hoped, prove ac 
ceptable to the learned reader. 

It has already been observed, that the Roman Catechism owes its 
origin to the zeal and wisdom of the Fathers of Trent: the Decree 
of the Council for its commencement was passed in the twenty-fourth 
session ; and its composition was confided to individuals recommended, 
no doubt, by their superior piety, talents and learning. That, du 
ring the Council, a Congregation had been appointed for the execu 
tion of the work, is matter of historic evidence; 1 but whether, be 
fore the close of the Council, the work had actually been commenced, 
is a point of interesting, but doubtful inquiry. 2 It is certain, how 
ever, that amongst those who, under the superintending care of the 
sainted Archbishop of Milan, were most actively employed in its com 
position, are to be numbered three learned Dominicans, Leonardo 
Marini, subsequently raised to the Archiepiscopal throne of Lancia- 
no, 3 Francisco Foreiro, the learned translator of Isaias, 4 and -/L gi- 
dius Foscarrari, Bishop of Modena, 5 names not unknown to history 
and to literature. 6 Whether to them exclusively belongs the comple 
tion of the Catechism, or whether they share the honour and the 
merit with others, is a question which, about the middle of the last 
century, enlisted the zeal and industry of contending writers. The 
Letters and Orations of Pogianus, published by Lagomarsini, seem 
however, to leave the issue of the contest no longer doubtful. Of 
these letters one informs us, that three Bishops were appointed by 
the Sovereign Pontiff to undertake the task : 7 of the three Dominicans 
already mentioned, two only had been raised to the episcopal dignity ; 
and hence a fourth person, at least, must have been associated to 
their number and their labours. That four persons had been actually 
appointed by the Pontiff appears from the letter of Gratianus to 
Cardinal Commendon: 8 and after much research, Lagomarsini has 
discovered that this fourth person was Muzio Calini, Archbishop of 
Zara. 9 The erudite and accurate Tiraboschi has arrived at the 

1 Pogianus, vol. 2. p. xviii. 2 Palavicino, lib. xxiv. c. 13. 

3 Epistolae et Orationes Julii Pogiani, editse a Lagomarsini, Romse, 1756, vol. 2. p. xx. 

4 Oltrochius de vita ac rebus gestis, S. Caroli Borromsei, lib. 1. c. 8. annot. 3. apud Pogianum, 
vol. 2. p. xx. 

5 Tabularium Ecclesias Romanes. Leipsic, 1743. 

6 Foreiro s translation and commentary on Isaias may be seen in the " Recueil des grands 

7 " Datum est negotium a Pontifice Maximo tribus episcopif," &c. Pog. Ep. et Oral. vol. 3. 
p. 449. 

8 "ad earn rein quatuor viros Pius delegit," &c. Pog. vol. 1. p. xvii. 

9 Calini assisted at the Council, as Archbishop of Zara, and died Bishop of Terni, in 1570. 
It would appear from Tiraboschi lhat he belonged to no religious order. He is called " liuomo 
di molte lettere e molta pieta." See MSS. notes found in the library of the Jesuit College in 
Fermo; also MSS. letters of Calini apud Pogian. vol. 2. p. xxii. Palav:cino Istoria del C. di 
Trento, 1. 15. c. 13 


same conclusion : he expressly numbers Calini amongst the authors 
of the Roman Catechism. l The MSS. notes, to which Largomarsini 
refers in proof of this opinion, mention, itis true, the names of Galesinus 
and Pogianus with that of Calini : Pogianus, it is universally acknow 
ledged, had no share in the composition of the work ; and the passage, 
therefore, must have reference solely to its style. With this inter 
pretation, the mention of Calini does not conflict; the orations delivered 
by him in the Council of Trent prove, that in elegance of Latinity 
he was little inferior to Pogianus himself; and the style, therefore, 
might also have employed the labour of his pen. 

Other names are mentioned as possessing claims to the honour of 
having contributed to the composition of the Trent Catechism, 
amongst which are those of Cardinal Seripandus, Archbishop of Sa 
lerno, and legate at the Council to Pius the Fourth, Michael Medina, 
and Cardinal Antoniano, secretary to Pius the Fifth; but Tiraboschi 
omits to notice their pretensions; and my inquiries have not been 
rewarded with a single authority competent to impeach the justness 
of the omission. Their names, that of Medina excepted, he frequently 
introduces throughout his history; in no instance, however, does he 
intimate that they had any share in the composition of the Roman 
Catechism ; and his silence, therefore, lam disposed to interpret as a 
denial of their claim. 

The work, when completed, 2 was presented to Pius the Fifth, and 
was handed over by his holiness for revisal to a Congregation, over 
which presided the profound and judicious Cardinal Sirlet. 3 The 
style, according to some, was finally retouched by Paulus Manutius; 1 
according to others, and the opinion is more probable, it owes this 
last improvement to the classic pen of Pogianus. 5 Its uniformity, 
(the observation is Lagomarsini s) and its strong resemblance to that 
of the other works of Pogianus, depose in favour of the superiority 
of his claim. 6 The work was put to press under the vigilant eye of 
the laborious and elegant Manutius, 7 published by authority of Piu 
the Fifth, and by command of the Pontiff translated into the lan- 

1 See Tiraboschi Storia della Letteratura Italiana, T. vii. part 1. p. 304, ?08. vid. Script. Oniin 
Prffidir-. vol. 228. Romas, 1784. 

2 It was finished anno 1564. Catechismum habemus jam absolutum, &c. Letter of S. Charlos 
Borromeo to Cardinal Hosius, dated December 27th, 1564, Pog. 2. Ivii. 

3 Ibid. To Cardinal Sirlet, Biblical literature owes the varies lectiones in the Antwerpian 

4 Graveson Hist. Eccl. T. 7. p. 156. Ed. Venet. 1738. Apostolus Zeuo. Anotat. in I jbl. Eloz 
Ital. T. 11. p. 136. Ed. Venet. 1733. 

* Lagomareini Not. in Gratian. Epist. ad Card. Commend. Romoe, 1750 

Vol. 2. p. xxxiv. Pog. vol. 2. p. xxxix 



guages of Italy, France, Germany, and Poland. l To the initiated no 
apology is, I trust, necessary for this analysis of a controversy which 
the Translator could not, with propriety, pass over in silence, and on 
which so much of laborious research has been expended. To 
detail, however, the numerous approvals that hailed the publication 
of the work, recommended its perusal, and promoted its circulation, 
would, perhaps, rather fatigue the patience, than interest the curio 
sity of the reader. 2 Enough, that its merits were then, as they are 
now, recognised by the Universal Church; and the place given 
amongst the masters of spiritual life to the devout A Kempis, " second 
only," says Fontenelle, " to the books of the canonical Scripture," 
has been unanimously awarded to the Catechism of the Council of 
Trent, as a compendium of Catholic theology. 

Thus, undertaken by decree of the Council of Trent, the result of 
the aggregate labours of the most distinguished of the Fathers who 
composed that august assembly, revised by the severe judgment, and 
polished by the classic taste of the first scholars of that classic age, 
the Catechism of the Council of Trent is stamped with the impress 
of superior worth, and challenges the respect and veneration of 
every reader. 

In estimating so highly the merits of the original, it has not, however, 
escaped the Translator s notice, that a work purely theological and 
didactic, treated in a severe, scholastic form, and, therefore, not 
recommended by the more ambitious ornaments of style, must prove 
uninviting to those who seek to be amused, rather than to be instruct 
ed. The judicious reader will not look for such recommendation 
the character of the work precludes the idea : perspicuity, and an 
elaborate accuracy, are the leading features of the original; and the 
Translator is, at least, entitled to the praise of not having aspired to 
higher excellencies. To express the entire meaning of the author, 
attending rather to the sense, than to the r umber of his words, is 
the rule by which the Roman Orator was guided in his translation 
of the celebrated orations of the two rival orators of Greece. 3 From 
this general rule, however just, and favourable to elegance, the Trans- 

1 It was printed by Manutius before the end of July. 1566, but not published until the Se,p- 
tember following, when a folio and quarto edition appeared at the same time, accompanied 
with an Italian translation, from the pen of P. Alessio Figgliucci, O. P. Sabutin. in vita Pii, V. 
Pog. vol. 2. xl. 


Bourdeaux, 1583; of Tours, 1583 ; of Rheims, 1583; of Tolouse, 1590; of Avignon, 1594 ; of 
Aquiieia, 1586, &c. &c. 
* De opt. gen. oral. n. 14. 


lator has felt it a conscientious duty not unfrequently to depart, in 
the translation of a work, the phraseology of which is in so many 
instances, consecrated by ecclesiastical usage. Whilst, therefore, he 
has endeavoured to preserve the spirit, he has been unwilling to lose 
sight of the letter; studious to avoid a servile exactness, he has not 
felt himself at liberty to indulge the freedom of paraphrase : anxious 
to transfuse into the copy the spirit of the original, he has been no less 
anxious to render it an express image of that original. The reader, 
perhaps, will blame his severity : his fidelity, he trusts, may defy 
reproof; and on it he rests his only claim to commendation. 

By placing the work, in its present form, before the public, the 
Translator trusts he shall have rendered some service to the cause 
of religion : should this pleasing anticipation be realized, he will deem 
the moments of leisure devoted to it well spent, and the reward more 
than commensurate to his humble labours. 


Juna 10th, 1829. 





SUCH is the nature of the human mind, so limited are its in- 
lellectual powers, that, although by means of diligent and labori- man rea 
oire inquiry it has been enabled of itself to investigate and dis- so 
cover many divine truths ; yet guided solely by its own lights it 
could never know or comprehend most of those things by which 
eternal salvation, the principal end of man s creation and forma 
tion to the image and likeness of God, is attained. " The invi- r ! ecessit y 

of reve 

sible things of God, from the creation of the world, are," as the lation 
Apostle teaches, " clearly seen, being understood by the things 
that are made : his eternal power also and divinity." 1 But " the 
mystery which had been hidden from ages and generations" so 
far transcends the reach of man s understanding, that were it not 
" manifested to his saints to whom God," by the gift of faith, 
" would make known the riches of the glory of this mystery, 
amongst the Gentiles, which is Christ," 2 it had never been given 
to human research to aspire to such wisdom 

But, as " faith cometh by hearing," 3 the necessity of the assi- And of au 
duous labour and faithful ministry of a legitimate teacher, at all 
times, towards the attainment of eternal salvation is manifest, for 
it is written, "how shall they hear without a preacher? And 
how shall they preach unless they be sent?" 4 And, indeed, 
never, from the very creation of the world, has God most merciful 
and benignant been wanting to his own ; but " at sundry times 
ami in divers manners spoke, in times past, to the Fathers by the 

Rom. i. 20. 2 Coloss. i. 26, 27. 3 Ro m . x . 17 4 Rom x 14> ir , 

2 13 


Prophets ;" l and pointed out, in a manner suited to the times and 
circumstances, a sure and direct path to the happiness of heaven. 
But, as he had foretold that he would give a teacher, " to be the 
light of the Gentiles and salvation to the ends of the earth ;" 3 
" in these days he hath spoken to us by his Son," 3 whom also 
by a voice from heaven, " from the excellent glory," 4 he has 
commanded all to hear and to obey ; and the Son " hath given 
some apostles, and some prophets, and others evangelists, and 
others pastors and teachers," 5 to announce the word of life; that 
we be not carried about like children with every wind of doc 
trine, but Irolding fast to the firm foundation of the faith, " may 
be built together into a habitation of God in the Holy Ghost." 
The pas- That none may receive the word of God from the ministers 
Church to of the Church as the word of man, but as the word of Christ, 
be heard. w | ia j j^ really is $ the same Saviour has ordained that their mi 
nistry should be invested Avith such authority that he says to 
them ; " he that hears you, hears me ; and he that despises you, 
despises me ;" 7 a declaration which he would not be understood 
to make to those only to whom his words were addressed, but 
likewise to all who, by legitimate succession, should discharge 
the ministry of the word, promising to be with them " all days, 
even to the consummation of the world." 8 

Peculiar As this preaching of the divine word should never be inter- 

cf pastoral rup te d in the Church of God, so in these our days it becomes 

instruction ne cessary to labour with more than ordinary zeal and piety to 

days. nurture and strengthen the faithful with sound and wholesome 

doctrine, as with the food of life : for " false prophets have gone 

forth into the world" 9 " with various and strange doctrines" 10 to 

corrupt the minds of the faithful ; of whom the Lord hath said 

Activity " I sent them not, and they ran ; I spoke not to them, yet they 

" Reform- prophesied."" In this unholy work, to such extremes has their 

impiety, practised in all the arts of Satan, been carried, that it 

would seem almost impossible to confine it within bounds ; and 

did we not rely on the splendid promises of the Saviour, who 

declared that he had " built his Church on so solid a foundation, 

that the gates of hell should never prevail against it, " 2 we should 

be filled with most alarming apprehension lest, beset on every 

side by such a host of enemies, assailed by so many and such 

formidable engines, the Church of God should, in these days, 

fall beneath their combined efforts. To omit those illustrious 

i Heb. i. 1. 2 Is. xlix. 6. = Heb. i. 2. 4 2 Pet. i. 17. 

5 Eph. iv. 11. 6 Eph. ii. 22. 7 Luke x. 16. * Matt xxviii. 20. 

9 1 John iv. 1. 10 Heb. xiii. 9. " Jerem. xxiii. 21. 2 Matt. xvi. 18. 


states which heretofore professed, in piety and holiness, the Ca 
tholic faith transmitted to them by their ancestors, but are no * 
gone astray, wandering from the paths of truth, and openly de 
claring that their best claims of piety are founded on a total 
abandonment of the faith of their fathers : there is no region 
however remote, no place however securely guarded, no corner 
of the Christian republic, into which this pestilence has not 
sought secretly to insinuate itself. Those, who proposed to 
themselves to corrupt the minds of the faithful, aware that they 
could not hold immediate personal intercourse with all, and thus 
pour into their ears their poisoned doctrines, by adopting a dif 
ferent plan, disseminated error and impiety more easily and ex 
tensively. Besides those voluminous works, by which they 
sought the subversion of the Catholic faith ; to guard against 
which, however, containing, as they did, open heresy, required, 
perhaps, little labour or circumspection ; they also composed in 
numerable smaller books, which, veiling their errors under the 
semblance of piety, deceived with incredible facility the simple 
and the incautious. 

The Fathers, therefore, of the general Council of Trent, anx- Object and 
ious to apply some healing remedy to an evil of such magnitude, ontm^ 
were not satisfied with having decided the more important points work 
of Catholic doctrine against the heresies of our times, but deem 
ed it further necessary to deliver some fixed form of instructing 
the faithful in the truths of religion from the very rudiments of 
Christian knowledge ; a form to be followed by those to whom 
are lawfully intrusted the duties of pastor and teacher. In works 
of this sort many, it is true, have already employed their pens, 
and earned the reputation of great piety and learning. The 
Fathers, however, deemed it of the first importance that a work 
should appear, sanctioned by the authority of the Holy Synod, 
from which pastors and all others on whom the duty of impart 
ing instruction devolves, may draw with security precepts for the 
edification of the faithful ; that as there is "one Lord, one iaith " 
there may also be one standard and prescribed form of propound 
ing the dogmas of faith, and instructing Christians in all the du 
ties of piety. 

As, therefore, the design of the work embraces a variety of IH 
matter, the Holy Synod cannot be supposed to have intended to " 
comprise, in one volume, all the dogmas of Christianity, with that 
minuteness of detail to be found in the works of those who pro- 

1 Eph. iv. 5. 



fess to treat of all the institutions and doctrines of religion. Such 
a task would be one of almost endless labour, and manifestly ill- 
suited to attain the proposed end. But, having undertaken to 
instruct pastors and such as ha^e care of souls in those things that 
belong peculiarly to the pastoral office and are accommodated to 
the capacity of the faithful ; the Holy Synod intended that such 
things only should be treated of as might assist the pious zeal of 
pastors in discharging the duty of instruction, should they not be 
very familiar with the more abstruse questions of theological dis 

Principal Such being the nature and object of the present work, its 
observed & r( ^ er requires that, before we proceed to develope those things 

by the Pas- severally which comprise a summary of this doctrine, we pre- 

tor in com- J 

municating mise a few observations explanatory of the considerations which 

" should form the primary object of the pastor s attention, and 
which he should keep continually before his eyes, in order to 
know to what end, as it were, all his views and labours and stu 
dies are to be directed, and how this end, which he proposes to 
himself, may be facilitated and attained. 

First. The first is always to recollect that in this consists all Chris 

tian knowledge, or rather, to use the words of the Apostle, " this 
is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ 
whom thou hast sent." 1 A teacher in the Church will, there 
fore, use his best endeavours that the faithful desire earnestly " to 
know Jesus Christ and him crucified," 2 that they be firmly con 
vinced, and with the most heart-felt piety and devotion believe, 
that " there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby 
they can be saved," 3 for he is the propitiation for our sins." 4 

Second. But as " by this we know that we have known him, if we keep 

his commandments," 5 the next consideration, and one intimately 
connected with the preceding, is to press also upon their atten 
tion that their lives are not to be wasted in ease and indolence, 
but that " we are to walk even as Christ walked," 6 " and pursue," 
with unremitting earnestness, " justice, godliness, faith, charity, 
patience, mildness ;" 7 for, " he gave himself for us, that he might 
redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people 
acceptable, a pursuer of good works." 8 These things the Apostle 
commands pastors to speak and to exhort. 

Third. But as our Lord and Saviour has not only declared, but has 

also proved by his own example, that " the Law and the Prophets 

i John xvii. 3. 2 i Cor. ii. 2. * Acts iv. 12. 4 ] J hr. ii. 2. 

* 1 John ii. 3. 6 l John ii. 6. ^ I Tim. vi. 11. 8 Tit. ii. 14. 


depend on love," 1 and as, according to the Apostle, charity is 
the end of the commandments, and the fulfilment of the law,* 
it is unquestionably a paramount duty of the pastor, to use the 
utmost assiduity to excite the faithful to a love of the infinite 
goodness of God towards us ; that burning with a sort of divine 
ardour, they may be powerfully attracted to the supreme and all 
perfect good, to adhere to which is true and solid happiness, as 
is fully experienced by him who can say with the Prophet ; 
" What have I in heaven but thee ? and besides thee what do I 
desire upon earth ?3 This, assuredly, is that more excellent 
way4 pointed out by the Apostle, when he refers all his doc 
trines and instructions to charity which never faileth;"* for 
whatever is proposed by the pastor, whether it be the exercise 
of faith, of hope, or of some moral virtue ; the love of God should 
be so strongly insisted upon by him, as to show clearly that all 
the works of perfect Christian virtue can have no other origin, no 
other end than divine love 6 

But as in imparting instruction of any sort, the manner of Fourth, 
communicating it is of considerable importance, so in conveying 
instruction to the people, it should be deemed of the greatest 
moment. Age, capacity, manners and condition demand atten 
tion, that he, who instructs, may become all things to all men, and 
be able to gain all to Christ, and prove himself a faithful minis 
ter and steward," and, like a good and faithful servant, be found 
worthy to be placed by his Lord over many things. 9 Nor let 
him imagine that those committed to his care are all of equal 
capacity or like dispositions, so as to enable him to apply the 
same course of instruction, to lead all to knowledge and piety; 
for some are, as it were new-born infants," others grown up 
in Christ, and others in some sort, of full maturity. Hence the 
necessity of considering who they are that have occasion for 
ulk, who for more solid food, and of affording to each such 
nutriment of doctrine as may give spiritual increase, " until we 
11 meet in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son 
God into a perfect man, into the measure of the age of the 
fulness of Christ." This the example of the Apostle points 
out to the observance of all, for, he is a debtor to the Greek 
and the Barbarian, to the wise and to the unwise :" 13 thus giving 
all who are called to this ministry, to understand that in announ- 


cing the mysteries of faith, and inculcating the precepts of 
morality, the instruction is to be accommodated to the capacity 
and intelligence of the hearers ; that, whilst the minds of the 
strong are filled with spiritual food, the little ones be not suffered 
to perish with hunger, " asking for bread, whilst there is none 
to break it to them." 1 

Fifth Nor should our zeal in communicating Christian knowledge 

be relaxed, because it is sometimes to be exercised in expounding 
matters apparently humble and unimportant, and, therefore, com 
paratively uninteresting to minds accustomed to repose in the 
contemplation of the more sublime truths of religion. If the 
wisdom of the eternal Father descended upon the earth in the 
meanness of our flesh, to teach "s the maxims of a heavenly life, 
who is there whom the love of Christ does not compel 2 to be 
come little in the midst of his brethren ; and, as a nurse fostering 
her children, so anxiously to wish for the salvation of his neigh 
bour, that as the Apostle testifies of himself, he desires to deliver 
not only the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, but even his own 
life for them. 3 

Where the But all the doctrines of Christianity, in which the faithful are 
d f C Christi to be instructed > are derived from the word of God, which includes 
anity are Scripture and tradition. To the study of these, therefore, the 
pastor should devote his days and his nights, always keeping in 
mind the admonition of St. Paul to Timothy, which all who 
have the care of souls should consider as addressed to themselves ; 
"Attend to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine, 4 for all 
Scripture divinely inspired, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to 
correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be per 
fect, furnished to every good work." 5 

Division of But as the truths revealed by Almighty God, are so many and 
the work. ^ var [ OUS) as to render it no easy task to comprehend them, or, 
having comprehended them, to retain so distinct a recollection ot 
them as to be able to explain them with ease and promptitude 
when occasion may require ; our predecessors in the faith have 
very wisely reduced them to these four heads The Apostle s 
Creed The Sacraments The ten Commandments and the 
First part. Lord s Prayer. The Creed contains all that is to be held accord 
ing to the discipline of the Christian faith, whether it regard the 
knowledge of God, the creation and government of the world; 
or the redemption of man, the rewards of the good and the pu- 

1 Heb. v. 14. Lamen. iv. 4. 2 2 Cor. v. 14. 3 1 Thess. ii. 7, 8. 

4 1 Tim. iv. 13. 5 2 Tim. iii. . 6, 17 


nishments of the wicked. The doctrine of the seven Sacraments Second 
comprehends the signs, and, as it were, the instruments of grace. 
The Decalogue, whatever has reference to the law, " the end Third Part 
whereof is charity." 1 Finally, the Lord s Prayer contains what- Fourth 
ever can be the object of the Christian s desires, or hopes, or 
prayers. The exposition, therefore, of these, as it were, com 
mon-places of sacred Scripture, includes almost every thing to 
be known by a Christian. 

We, therefore, deem it proper to acquaint pastors that, when- ^PP 1 Q C f a j he 
ever they have occasion, in the ordinary discharge of their Catechism 
duty, to expound any passage of the Gospel, or any other part pe l of the 
of Scripture, they will find its substance under some one of fcmnda y- 
the four heads already enumerated, to which they will recur, 
as the source from which their exposition is to be drawn. Thus, 
if the Gospel of the first Sunday of Advent is to be explained, 
" There shall be signs in the sun and in the moon, &c. 2 what 
ever regards its explanation is contained under the article of the 
creed, " He shall come to judge the living and the dead," and by 
imbodying the substance of that article in his exposition, the pas 
tor will at once instruct his people in the creed and in the Gos 
pel. Whenever, therefore, he has to communicate instruction 
and expound the Scriptures, he will observe the same rule of re 
ferring all to these four principal heads, which, as we have alrea 
dy observed, comprise the whole force and doctrine of Holy 

He will, however, observe that order which he deems best V ]^. y wh e 
suited to persons, times and circumstances. Walking in the the expla- 
footsteps of the Fathers, who to initiate men in Christ the Lord the cre ed. 
and instruct them in his discipline begin with the doctrine of 
faith, we have deemed it useful to explain first in order what ap 
pertains to faith. 

As the word faith has a variety of meanings in the Sacred Jj!J^ 
Scriptures, it may not be unnecessary to observe that here we here, 
speak of that faith by which we yield our entire assent to what 
ever has been revealed by Almighty God. That faith thus un 
derstood is necessary to salvation no man can reasonably doubt ; 
particularly as the Sacred Scriptures declare that " Without 
faith it is impossible to please God." 3 For as the end proposed 
to man as his ultimate happiness is far above the reach 
of the human understanding, it was, therefore, necessary that it 
should be made known to him by Almighty God. This know- 

1 1 Tim. i. 5. 22 Luke xxi. 25. 3 Heb. xi. 6. 


ledge is nothing else than faith, by which we yield our unhesita 
ting assent to whatever the authority of our Holy Mother the 
Church teaches us to have been revealed by Almighty God : for 
the faithful cannot doubt those things of which God, who is truth 
itself, is the author. Hence we see the great difference that exist* 
between this faith which we give to God, and the credence which 
we yield to profaiie historians. But faith, though comprehen 
sive, and differing in degree and dignity, [for we read in Scrip- 
ture these words," O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt" 
and "great is thy faith," 2 and" Increase our faith," 3 also 
" Faith without works is dead" 4 and " Faith which worketh by 
charity;*"] is yet the same in kind, and the full force of its 
definition applies equally to all its degrees. Its fruit and advan 
tages to us, we shall point out when explaining the articles of 
the Creed. The first, then, and most important points of Chris 
tian faith are those which the holy Apostles, the great leaders and 
teachers of the faith, men inspired by the Holy Ghost, have divi- 
The Creed ded into the twelve articles of the Creed : for as they had re- 

why d C b m " ceived a command from the Lord to go forth " int the Wh le 
\h?ApL world," " as his ambassadors, and preach the Gospel to every 
creature, 6 they thought proper to compose a form of Christian 
faith, " that all may speak and think the same thing ;" 7 and 
that amongst those whom they should have called to the unity 
of faith, no schisms should exist ; but that they should be per 
fect in the same mind, and in the same spirit. This profession 
of Christian faith and hope, drawn up by themselves, the Apos 
tles called a " symbol," either because it was an aggregate of the 
combined sentiments of all ; or because, by it, as by a common 
sign and watch-word, they might easily distinguish false bre 
thren, deserters from the faith, " unawares brought in," " who 
adultered the word of God," 9 from those who had pledged an 
oath of fidelity to serve under the banner of Christ. 

i Matt. T IV 31. 2 Matt. xv. 28. Luke xvii. 5. James ii. 17. 

6 Gal. v. 6 62 Cor. v. 18, 19, 20. Mark xvi. 15 ? 1 Cor. 1. 10. 

e Gal. ii.4. 9 2 Cor. 11. 17. 









AMONGST the many truths which Christianity proposes to our Division ot 
belief, and of which separately, or collectively, an assured and the Creed - 
firm faith is necessary, the first and one essential to be believed 
by all, is that which God himself has taught us as the foundation 
of truth, and which is a summary of the unity of the divine 
essence, of the distinction of three persons, and of the actions 
which are peculiarly attributed to each. The pastor will inform 
the people that the Apostles Creed briefly comprehends the doc 
trine of this mystery. For, as has been observed by our prede 
cessors in the faith, who in treating this subject, have given proofs 
at once of piety and accuracy, the Creed seems to be divided into 
three principal parts, one describing the first Person of the di 
vine nature, and the stupendous work of the creation another, 
the second Person, and the mystery of man s redemption a 
third, comprising in several most appropirate sentences, the doc 
trine of the third Person, the head and source of our sanctification. 
These sentences are called articles, by a sort of comparison fre 
quently used by our forefathers ; for as the members of the body 
are divided by joints (articulis) so in this profession of faith, 
whatever is to be believed distinctly and separately from any 
thing else, is appositely called an article. 

" I BELIEVE IN GOD."] The meaning of these words is this ; Import of 
1 believe with certainty, and without a shadow of doubt profess j; h e word* 
my belief in God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, who " 


>f Faith. 


Open pro 
fession of. 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

by his omnipotence created from nothing, preserves and governs 
the heavens and the earth, and all things which they encompass : 
and not only do I believe in him from my heart, and profess this 
belief with my lips, but with the greatest ardour and piety tend 
towards him, as the supreme and most perfect good. Let it suf 
fice thus briefly to state the substance of this first article : but as 
great mysteries lie concealed under almost every word, the pas 
tor must now give them a more minute consideration, in order 
that, as far as God has permitted, the faithful may approach, 
with fear and trembling, the contemplation of the glory of the 
divine Majesty. 

The word " believe," therefore, does not here mean " to 
think," " to imagine," " to be of opinion," but, as the Sacred 
Scriptures teach, it expresses the deepest conviction of the mind, 
by which we give a firm and unhesitating assent to God reveal 
ing his mysterious truths. As far, therefore, as regards the use 
of the word here ; he, who firmly and without hesitation is con 
vinced of any thing, is said "to believe." : Nor is the know 
ledge derived through faith to be considered less certain, because 
its objects are not clearly comprehended ; for the divine light in 
which we see them, although it does not render them evident, 
yet sheds around them such a lustre as leaves no doubt on the 
mind regarding them. " For God, who commanded the light to 
shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts," 2 " that the 
Gospel be not hidden to us, as to those that perish." 3 

From what has been said, it follows that he who is gifted with 
this heavenly knowledge of faith, is free from an inquisitive cu 
riosity ; for when God commands us to believe, he does not pro 
pose to us to search into his divine judgments, or inquire into 
their reasons and their causes, but demands an immutable faith, 
by the efficacy of which, the mind reposes in the knowledge of 
eternal truth. And indeed, if, whilst we have the testimony of 
the Apostle, that" God is true and every man a liar;" 4 it would 
argue arrogance and presumption to disbelieve the asseveration 
of a grave and sensible man affirming any thing as true, and urge 
him to support his asseveration by reasons and authorities ; what 
temerity and folly does it not argue in those, who hear the words 
of God himself, to demand reasons for the heavenly and saving 
doctrines which he reveals ? Faith, therefore, excludes not only 
all doubt, but even the desire of subjecting its truths to demon 

But the pastor should also teach, that he who says, " I be 
lieve," besides declaring the inward assent of the mind, which 
is an internal act of faith, should also openly and with alacrity 
profess and proclaim what he inwardly and in his heart believes : 
for the faithful should be animated by the same spirit that spoke 
by the lips of the prophet, when he said : " I believe, and there 
fore did I speak," 5 and should follow the example of the Apos 
tles who replied to the princes of the earth : " We cannot but 

Rom. iv. 1821. 2 2 Cor. iv. 6. 3 Ibid. v. 3. 

5 Ps. cxv. 1. 

4 Rom. iii. 4. 

On the first article of the Creed. 

speak the things which we have seen and heard." 1 This spirit 
should be excited within us by these admirable words of St. Paul: 
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto 
salvation, to every one that believeth ;" 2 sentiments which derive 
additional force from these words of the same Apostle : " With 
the heart we believe unto justice ; but with the mouth confession 
is made unto salvation." 3 

"Lv GOD"] From these words we may learn, how exalted c " stm 
are the dignity and excellence of Christian philosophy, and superb? u> 
what a debt of gratitude we owe to the divine goodness ; we to human 
whom it is given at once to soar on the wings of faith to the wisdom- 
knowledge of a being surpassing in excellence and in whom all 
our desires should be concentrated. For in this, Christian philo 
sophy and human wisdom differ much ; that guided solely by the 
light of nature, and having made gradual advances by reasoning 
on sensible objects and effects, human wisdom, after long and 
laborious investigation, at length reaches with difficulty the con 
templation of the invisible things of God, discovers and under 
stands the first cause and author of all things ; whilst on the con 
trary Christian philosophy so enlightens and enlarges the human 
mind, that at once and without difficulty it pierces the heavens, 
and illumined with the splendours of the divinity contemplates 
first the eternal source of light, and in its radiance all created 
things ; so that with the Apostle we experience with the most 
exquisite pleasure, " and believing rejoice with joy unspeaka 
ble," 4 that " we have been called out of darkness into his admi 
rable light." 5 Justly, therefore, do the faithful profess first to 
believe in God ; whose majesty, with the prophet Jeremiah, we 
declare "incomprehensible," 6 for, as the Apostle says, " He dwells 
in light inaccessible, which no man hath seen or can see :" 7 and 
speaking to Moses, he himself said " No man shall see my face 
and live." 8 The mind, to be capable of rising to the contem 
plation of the Deity, whom nothing approaches in sublimity, must 
be entirely disengaged from the senses ; and this the natural con 
dition of man in the present life renders impossible. 

" God," however, " left not himself without testimony ; doing Human 
good from heaven ; giving rains and fruitful seasons, filling our however, 
hearts with food and gladness." 9 Hence it is that philosophers capable 
conceived no mean idea of the Divinity ; ascribed to him nothing ?^ ob t ain - 
corporeal, nothing gross, nothing compound ; considered him the 1",^ of 
perfection and fulness of all good ; from whom, as from an eter- God from 
nal, inexhaustible fountain of goodness and benignity, flows his work& 
every perfect gift to all creatures ; called him the wise, the author 
of truth, the loving, the just, the most beneficent; gave him, also, 
many other appellations expressive of supreme and absolute per 
fection ; and said that his immensity filled every place, and his 
omnipotence extended to every thing. This the Sacred Scrip 
tures more clearly express, and more fully develope, as in the 

I Acts. iv. 20 2 Rom. i. Ifi. 3 Rom. x. 10. < 1 Pet. i. 8. 

* 1 Pet. ii. 9. e Jerem. xxxii. 19. i 1 Tim. vi. 16. 8 Exod. xxxiii. 10. 

9 Acts xiv. 16. 

24 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

following passages : " God is a spirit;" 1 "Be ye perfect, even 
as your Father, who is in heaven, is also perfect ;" 2 " all things are 
naked and open to his eyes ;" 3 " Oh ! the depth of the riches of 
the wisdom and of the knowledge of God ;" 4 " God is true ;" 5 
" I am the way, the truth and the life ;" 6 " Thy right hand is 
full of justice ;" 7 " Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with bless 
ing every living creature ;" 8 and finally: " Whither shall I go 
from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy face ? If I as 
cend into heaven, thou art there ; if I descend into hell thou art 
there ; if I take wing in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost 
parts of the sea ; even there also shall thy hand lead me, and thy 
right hand shall hold me," &c. 9 and " Do I not fill heaven and 
earth, saith the Lord?" 10 These are great and sublime truths 
regarding the nature of God ; and of these truths philosophers 
attained a knowledge, which, whilst it accords with the authority 
of the inspired volume, results from the investigation of created 

The know- But we must, also, see the necessity of divine revelation, if 
rived from we ren<ect tnat not on ty ^ oes faith, as we have already observed, 
faith more make known at once to the rude and unlettered, those truths, a 
easy and knowledge of which philosophers could attain only by long and 
laborious study ; but also impresses this knowledge with much 
greater certainty and security against all error, than if it were the 
result of philosophical inquiry. But how much more exalted 
must not that knowledge of the Deity be considered, which can 
not be acquired in common by all from the contemplation of na 
ture, but is the peculiar privilege of those who are illumined by 
the light of faith ? 

This knowledge is contained in the articles of the Creed which 
disclose to us the unity of the divine essence, and the distinction 
of three persons ; and also that God is the ultimate end of oui 
being, from whom we are to expect the fruition of the eternal 
happiness of heaven : for we have learned from St. Paul, that 
" God is a rewarder of them that seek him." " The greatness 
of these rewards, and whether they are such as that human 
knowledge could aspire to their attainment, 12 we learn from these 
words of Isaias uttered long before those of the Apostle; " From 
the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor perceived 
with the ears : without thee, O God, the eye hath not seen what 
things thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee." 

From what has been said, it must also be confessed that there 
is but one God not many Gods ; for as we attribute to God su 
preme goodness and infinite perfection, it is impossible that what 
is supreme and most perfect could be common to many. If a 
being want any thing that constitutes this supreme perfection, it 
is therefore imperfect, and cannot be endowed with the nature of 
God. This is also proved from many passages of the Sacred 

Unity of 

1 John iv. 24. 2 Matt. v. 48. 

s Rom. iii. 4. 6 John xiv. 6. 

9 Ps. cxxxviii. 7, 8, 9, 10, &c. 

1 Cor. ii. 914. 

3 Heb. iv. 13. < Rom. xi. 33. 

7 Ps. xlvii. 11. 8 p s . cxliv. 16. 

10 Jer. xxiii. 24. " Heb. xi. 6 
3 Isa. Ixiv. 4, 

On the first article of the Creed. 25 

Scripture ; for it is written, " Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, 
is one Lord ;" J again, " Thou shall not have strange gods before 
me," 2 is the command of God : and again he often admonishes 
us by the prophet, " I am the first, and I am the last, and besides 
me there is no God." 3 The Apostle also expressly declares ; 
" one Lord, one faith, one Baptism." 4 It should not, however, 
excite our surprise if the Sacred Scriptures sometimes give the 
name of God to creatures : 5 for when they call the prophets and 
judges gods, they do so not after the manner of the Gentiles ; 
who, in their folly and impiety, formed to themselves many 
gods ; but in order to express, by a manner of speaking then not 
unusual, some eminent quality or function conferred on them by 
the divine munificence. Christian faith, therefore, believes and 
professes, as is declared in the Nicene Creed in confirmation of 
this truth, that God in his nature, substance and essence is one ; 
but soaring still higher, it so understands him to be one that it 
adores unity in trinity and trinity in unity. Of this mystery 
we now proceed to speak, as it comes next in order in the 

" THE FATHER"] As God is called " Father" for more rea- Propriety 
sons than one, we must first determine the strictly appropriated "Father^ 
meaning of the word in the present instance. Some also on as applied 
whom the light of faith never shone, conceived God to be an toGod - 
eternal substance from whom all things had their beginning, 
by whose providence they are governed and preserved in their 
order and state of existence. As, therefore, he, to whom a fa 
mily owes its origin, and by whose wisdom and authority it is 
governed, is called a father ; so by analogy from things human, 
God was called Father, because acknowledged to be the crea 
tor and governor of the universe. The Sacred Scriptures also 
use the same appellation, when, speaking of God, they declare 
that to him the creation of all things, power and admirable provi 
dence, are to be ascribed : for we read, " Is not he thy Father that 
hath possessed thee, and made thee, and created thee ?" 6 And 
again, " Have we not all one Father ? Hath not one God created 
us ?" 7 

But God, particularly in the New Testament, is much more G d >n a 
frequently, and in some sense peculiarly called the Father of nvarm erthe 
Christians, who "have not received the spirit of bondage in "Father" 
fear, but have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby Chns " 
they cry abba Father;" 8 " for the Father hath bestowed on us 
that manner of charity, that we should be called, and be the sons 
of God ;" 9 " and if sons, heirs also, heirs, indeed, of God, and 
joint-heirs with Christ," 10 "who is the first-born amongst many 
brethren, " for which cause he is not ashamed to call them bre 
thren." 1Z Whether, therefore, we look to the common title of crea 
tion and conservation ; or to the special one of spiritual adoption, 

1 Dent. vi. 4. 2 Exod. xx. 3. 3 i s . X H V . 6 ; xlviii. 12. < Eph. iv. 5. 

5 1 s. Ixxxi. 1. Exod. xxii. 28. 1 Cor. viii. 5. 6 Deut. xxxii. 6 

* Mai. ii. 10. 8 Rom. viii. 15. * } John iii. 1. u Rom. viii. 17 
ir Rom. viii. 29. 2 Heb. ii. 11. 



The name 
of Father 
of persons 

The Tri 

The Father 
the first 

to be avoid 
ed in ex 
the myste 
ry of the 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent 

the term " Father," as applied to God by Christians, is alike 

But the pastor will teach the faithful that, on hearing the word 
" Father," besides the ideas already unfolded, their minds should 
rise to the contemplation of more exalted mysteries. Under the 
name of " Father," the divine oracles begin to unveil to us a 
mysterious truth which is more abstruse, and more deeply hidden 
in that inaccessible light in which God dwells a mysterious 
truth which human reason not only could not reach, but even 
conceive to exist. This name implies, that in the one essence 
of the Godhead is proposed to our belief, not only one person, 
but a distinction of persons : for in one Divine nature there are 
three persons ; the Father, begotten of none ; the Son, begotten 
of the Father before all ages ; the Holy Ghost, proceeding from 
the Father and the Son from all eternity. 

But in the one substance of the Divinity the Father is the first 
person, who with his only begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost is 
one God and one Lord, not in the singularity of one person, but 
in the trinity of one substance. These three persons, (for it 
would be impiety to assert that they are unlike or unequal in any 
thing) are understood to be distinct only in their peculiar rela 
tions. The Father is unbegotten, the Son begotten of the Fa 
ther, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from both ; and we confess 
the essence of the three Persons, their substance to be so the same, 
that we believe that in the confession of the true and eternal God, 
we are piously and religiously to adore distinction in the Persons, 
unity in the essence, and equality in the Trinity. When we say 
that the Father is the first person, we are not to be understood to 
mean that in theTrinity there is any thing first or last, greater or 
less let no Christian be guilty of such impiety, for Christianity 
proclaims the same eternity, the same majesty of glory in the three 
Persona but the Father, because the beginning without a be 
ginning, we truly and unhesitatingly affirm to be the first per 
son, who, as he is distinct from the others by his peculiar rela 
tion of paternity, so of him alone is it true that he begot the Son 
from eternity : for, when in the Creed we pronounce together the 
words " God" and " Father," it intimates to us that he is God 
and Father from eternity. 

But as in nothing is a too curious inquiry more dangerous, or 
error more fatal, than in the knowledge and exposition of this, 
the most profound and difficult of mysteries, let the pastor in 
struct the people religiously to retain the terms used to express 
this mystery, and which are peculiar to essence and person ; and 
let the faithful know that unity belongs to essence, and distinc 
tion to Persons. But these are truths which should not be made 
matter of too subtile disquisition, when we recollect that " he, 
who is a searcher of majesty, shall be overwhelmed by glory." 1 
We should be satisfied with the assurance which faith gives us 
that we have been taught these truths by God himself ; and te 

Prov. xxv. 27. 

On the first article of the Creed, 2? 

dissent from his oracles is the extreme of folly and misery. He 
has said : " Teach ye all nations, baptising them in the name of 
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ;" * and again, 
" there are three who give testimony in heaven ; the Father, the 
Word, and the Holy Ghost ; and these three are one." 3 Let him, 
however, who by the divine bounty believes these truths, con 
stantly beseech and implore God, and the Father, who made all 
things out of nothing, and orders all things sweetly, who gave 
us power to become the sons of God, and who made known to 
us the mystery of the Trinity ; that admitted, one day, into the 
eternal tabernacles, he may be worthy to see how great is the fe 
cundity of the Father, who contemplating and understanding him 
self, begot the Son like and equal to himself; how a love of cha 
rity in both, entirely the same and equal, which is the Holy 
Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, connects the 
begetting and the begotten by an eternal and indissoluble bond ; 
and that thus the essence of the Trinity is one and the distinction 
of the three persons perfect. 

" ALMIGHTY."] The Sacred Scriptures, in order to mark the why the 
piety and devotion with which the God of holiness is to be power and 
adored, usually express his supreme power and infinite majesty Goitre f 
in a variety of ways ; but the pastor should impress particularly designated 
on the minds of the faithful, that the attribute of omnipotence is h y man y 
that by which he is most frequently designated. Thus he says tluTsacred 
of himself, "I am the Almighty God;" 3 and again, Jacob Scriptures, 
when sending his sons to Joseph thus prayed for them, " May That of 
my Almighty God make him favourable to you." 4 In the Almighty 
Apocalypse also it is written, " The Lord God, who is, who ^"e nL 
was, and who is to come, the Almighty :" 5 and in another 
place the last day is called " the day of Almighty God." 
Sometimes the same attribute is expressed in many words ; 
thus : " no word shall be impossible with God :" 7 "Is the hand 
of the Lord unable?" 8 "Thy power is at hand when thou 
wilt." 9 Many other passages of the same import might be 
adduced, all of which convey the same idea which is clearly 
comprehended under this single word " Almighty " By it we Its mean- 
understand that there neither is, nor can be imagined any thing ing 
which God cannot do ; for he can not only annihilate all created 
things, and in a moment summon from nothing into existence 
many other worlds an exercise of power, which, however 
great, comes in some degree within our comprehension but he 
can do many things still greater, of which the human mind can 
form no conception. But though God can do all things, yet he 
cannot lie, or deceive, or be deceived ; he cannot sin, or be 
ignorant of any thing, or cease to exist. These things are com 
patible with those beings only whose actions are imperfect, and 
are entirely incompatible with the nature of God, whose acts are 
all-perfect. To be capable of these things is a proof of weakness, 

1 Matt xxviii. 19. 2 1 John v. 7. 3 Gen. xvii. 1. < Gen. xliii. 14. 

* Apoc. i. 8. 6 Apoc. xvi. 14. ? Luke i. 37. 8 N ura . x j. 33. 

9 Wisd. xii. 18. 

28 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

not of supreme and infinite power, the peculiar attribute of God 
Thus, whilst we believe God to be omnipotent, we exclude from 
him whatever is not intimately connected, and entirety consist 
ent with the perfection of his nature. 

Ommpo- But the pastor should point out the propriety and wisdom of 
tence, why having omitted all other names of God in the Creed, and of 
tribute y of having proposed to us that alone of " Almighty" as the object 
God men- of our belief ; for by acknowledging God to be omnipotent, we 
he creed a ^ so ^ neccss ity acknowledge him to be omniscient, and to hold 
all things in subjection to his supreme authority and dominion. 
When we doubt not that he is omnipotent, we must be also con 
vinced of every thing else regarding him, the absence of which 
would render his omnipotence altogether unintelligible. Besides, 
nothing tends more to confirm our faith, and animate our hope, 
than a deep conviction that all things are possible to God : for 
whatever may be afterwards proposed as an object of faith, 
however great, however wonderful, however raised above the 
natural order, is easily and at once believed, when the mind is 
already imbued with the knowledge of the omnipotence of God. 
Nay more, the greater the truths which the divine oracles an 
nounce, the more willingly does the mind deem them worthy of 
belief; and should we expect any favour from heaven, we are 
not discouraged by the greatness of the desired boon, but are 
cheered and confirmed by frequently considering, that there is 
nothing which an omnipotent God cannot effect. 

Necessity With this faith, then, we should be specially fortified wlien- 
f ft"** 1 in ever we are required to render any extraordinary service to our 
m ighty " neighbour, or seek to obtain by prayer any favour from God. 
Its necessity in the one case, we learn from the Redeemer him 
self, who, when rebuking the incredulity of the Apostles, said 
to them, "If you have faith as a mustard-seed, you shall say to 
this mountain, remove from hence thither, and it shall remove ; 
and nothing shall be impossible to you : ?1 and in the other, from 
these words of St. James, " Let him ask in faith, nothing 
wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which 
is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore, let not 
that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." a 
This faith brings with it also many advantages. It forms us, in 
the first place, to all humility and lowliness of mind, according 
to these words of the Prince of the Apostles : " Be you hum 
bled, therefore, under the mighty hand of God." 3 It also 
teaches us not to fear where there is no cause of fear, but to 
fear God alone, 4 in whose power we ourselves and all that we 
have are placed; 5 for our Saviour says, "I will show you 
whom you shall fear ; fear ye him, who, after he hath killed, 
hath power to cast into hell." 6 This faith is, also, useful to 
enable us to know and exalt the infinite mercies of God towards 
us : he who reflects on the omnipotence of God, cannot be so 

Matt. xvii. 20. 2 j am es i. 6, 7. 3 1 p e t. v. 6. < Ps. xxxii. 8. 33. 10. 
s Wisd. vii. 16. 6 Luke xii. 5. 

On the first article of the Creed. 29 

ungrateful as not frequently to exclaim, " He that is mighty 
hath done great things to me." 1 

When, however, in this article we call the Father " Almighty," Not three 
let no person be led into the error of excluding, therefore, from j^j^ 
its participation the Son and the Holy Ghost. As we say the mighty. 
Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Ghost is God, and yet 
there are not three Gods, but one God, so, in like manner, we 
confess that the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the 
Holy Ghost Almighty, and, yet, there are not three Almighties, 
but one Almighty. The Father, in particular, we call Almighty, 
because he is the source of all origin ; as we also attribute wis 
dom to the Son, because the eternal word of the Father ; and 
goodness to the Holy Ghost, because the love of both. These, 
however, and such appellations, maybe given indiscriminately to 
the three Persons, according to the rule of Catholic faith. 

" CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"] The necessity of having Fromwhat. 
previously imparted to the faithful a knowledge of the omni- ^ ^j 
potence of God, will appear from what we are now about to made the 
explain with regard to the creation of the world. For when worltl 
already convinced of the omnipotence of the Creator, we more 
readily believe the wondrous production of so stupendous a work. 
For God formed not the world from materials of any sort, but 
created it from nothing, and that not by constraint or necessity, 
but spontaneously, and of his own free will. Nor was he im 
pelled to create by any other cause than a desire to communicate 
to creatures the riches of his bounty ; for essentially happy in 
himself, he stands not in need of any thing : as David expresses 
it : "I said to the Lord, thou art my God, for of my goods thou 
hast no need." 3 But as, influenced by his own goodness, " he 
hath done all things whatsoever he would," 3 so in the work of 
the creation he followed no external form or model ; but con- , 

templating and, as it were, imitating the universal model con 
tained in the divine intelligence, the supreme Architect, with ii 
finite wisdom and power, attributes peculiar to the Divinity, 
created all things in the beginning : " he spoke and they were 
made, he commanded and they were created." 4 The words 
" heaven" and " earth" include all things which the heavens and 
the earth contain ; for, besides the heavens, which the Prophet 
called " the work of his fingers," 5 he also gave to the sun its 
brilliancy, and to the moon and stars their beauty : and that they 
may be " for signs and for seasons, for days and for years," 8 he 
so ordered the celestial bodies in a certain and uniform course, 
that nothing varies more their continual revolution, yet nothing 
more fixed than that variety. 

Moreover, he created from nothing spiritual nature, and angels Creation ot 
innumerable to serve and minister to him: and these he replen- An S els - 
ished and adorned with the admirable gifts of his grace and pow 
er. That the devil and his associates, the rebel angels, were 
gifted at their creation with grace, clearly follows from these 

1 Luke i. 49. ^ p s . xv . 2. 3 p s . cx iii. 3. 4 p s . xxx ;i. 9 . C xlviii. 5 

Ps. viii. 4. 6 Gen. i. 14. 


Their fall 

Creation of 
the earth. 

Of Man. 

God the 
Creator of 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

words of the Sacred Scriptures: "The devil stood not in the 
truth;" 1 on which subject St. Augustine says, "In creating the 
angels he endowed them with good will, that is, with pure love, by 
which they adhere to him, at once giving them existence, and 
adorning them with grace." 3 Hence we are to believe that the an 
gels were never without " good will," that is, the love of God. As 
to their knowledge we have this testimony of Holy Scripture : 
" Thou, Lord, my King, art wise according to the wisdom of an 
Angel of God, to understand all things upon earth." 3 Finally, Da- 
vidascribes power to them in these words ; " mighty in strength, 
executing his word;" 4 and on this account, they are often called 
in Scripture the " powers" and " the hosts of heaven." But al 
though they were all endowed with celestial gifts, very many, 
however, having rebelled against God, their Father and Creator, 
were hurled from the mansions of bliss, and shut up in the dark 
dungeons of hell, there to suffer for eternity the punishment of 
their pride. Speaking of them the Prince of the Apostles says : 
" He spare-d not the angels that sinned ; but delivered them, 
drawn down by infernal ropes, to the lower hell, into torments, 
to be reserved unto judgment." 5 

The earth, also, God commanded to stand in the midst of the 
world, rooted in its own foundation, and " made the mountains 
to ascend, and the plains to descend into the place which he had 
founded for them." That the waters should not inundate the 
earth, " he hath set a bound which they shall not pass over, nei 
ther shall they return to cover the earth." 6 He next not only 
clothed and adorned it with trees, and every variety of herb and 
flower, but filled it, as he had already filled the air and water, with 
innumerable sorts of living creatures. 

Lastly, he formed man from the slime of the earth, immortal 
and impassable, not, however, by the strength of nature, but by 
the bounty of God. His soul he created to his own image and 
likeness ; gifted him with free will, and tempered all his motions 
and appetites, so as to subject them, at all times, to the dictate of 
reason. He then added the invaluable gift of original righteous 
ness, and next gave him dominion over all other animals By re 
ferring to the sacred history of Genesis the pastor will make him 
self familiar with these things for the instruction of the faithful. 

What we have said, then, of the creation of the universe, is to 
be understood as conveyed by tbe words "heaven and earth," 
and is thus briefly set forth by the prophet : " Thine are the 
heavens, and thine is the earth : the world and the fulness thereof 
thou hast founded :" 7 and still more briefly by the Fathers of the 
Council of Nice, who added in their Creed these words, "of all 
things visible and invisible." Whatever exists in the universe, 
and was created by God, either falls under the senses, and is in 
cluded in the word " visible," or is an object of perception to the 
mind, and is expressed by the word " invisible." 

1 John viii. 44. 
Ps. cii. 20. 

2 \ug. lib. 12. de Civil. Dei, cap. 9. 3 2 Kings xiv. 20. 
s 2 Pet. ii. 4. 6 Ps. ciii. 8, 9. 1 Ps. Ixxxviii. 12. 

On the second article of the Creed. 31 

We are not, however, to understand that the works of God, The pre- 
when once created, could continue to exist unsupported by his 
omnipotence : as they derive existence from his supreme power, 
wisdom and goodness, so unless preserved continually by his su 
perintending providence, and by the same power which produced 
them, they should instantly return into their original nothing. 
This the Scriptures declare, when they say, " How could any 
thing endure if thou wouldst not ? or be preserved, if not called 
by thee ?"* But not only does God protect and govern all things 
by his providence ; but also by an internal virtue impels to mo 
tion and action whatever moves and acts, and this in such a man 
ner, as that although he excludes not, he yet prevents the agency 
of secondary causes. His invisible influence extends to all things, 
and as the wise man says : " It reacheth from end to end, mighty, 
and ordereth all things sweetly." a This is the reason why the 
Apostle, announcing to the Athenians the God whom not know 
ing they adored, said ; " He is not far from every one of us : for 
in him we live and move and have our being." 3 

Let thus much suffice for the explanation of the first article of Creation, 
the Creed : it may not, however, be unnecessary to add that the ^^{^ 
creation is the common work of the three Persons of the Holy Persons, 
and undivided Trinity of the Father, whom, according to the 
doctrine of the Apostles, we here declare to be " Creator of hea 
ven and earth ;" of the Son, of whom the Scripture says, " all 
things were made by him ;" * and of the Holy Ghost, of whom 
it is written, "The Spirit of God moved over the waters:" 5 and 
again, " By the word of the Lord the heavens were established 
and all the power of them by the Spirit of his mouth." 6 


THAT wonderful and superabundant are the blessings which The great 
flow to the human race, from the belief and profession of this blessings 
article we learn from these words of St. John ; " Whosoever shall SSita 
confess that Jesus is the son of God, God abideth in him and he belief and 
in God ;" 7 and also from the words of Christ our Lord, proclaim- profession 
ing the Prince of the Apostles blessed for the confession of this [ e thlsarU 
truth ; " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona : for flesh and blood 
have not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven." 8 
This sublime truth is the most firm basis of our salvation and re 

But as the fruit of these admirable blessings is best known by HOW we 
considering the ruin brought on man, by his fall from that most may learn 

1 Wisdom xi. 26. 2 Wisdom viii. 1 3 Acts xvii. 27, 28. > John i 3 
* Gen. i. 2. 6 Ps. xxxii. 6. 7 i j o h n iv. 15. 8 Mat xvi 17. 


to estimate 
their value. 

Belief and 

of this arti 
cle neces 
sary to sal 

The pro 
mise of a 

Same pro 
mise re 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

happy state in which God had placed our first parents, let the 
pastor be particularly careful to make known to the faithful, the 
cause of this common misery and universal calamity. When 
Adam had departed from the obedience due to God, and had vio 
lated the prohibition, "of every tree of Paradise thou shall eat; 
but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not 
eat, for in what day soever thou shalt eat it, thou shalt die the 
death ; ?1 he fell into the extreme misery of losing the sanctity 
and righteousness in which he was created ; and of becoming sub 
ject to all those other evils, which are detailed more at large by 
the holy Council of Trent. 2 The Pastor, therefore, will not omit 
to remind the faithful, that the guilt and punishment of original 
sin were not confined to Adam, but justly descended from him, 
as from their source and cause, to all posterity. The human race, 
having fallen from their elevated dignity, no power of men or 
angels could raise them from their fallen condition, and replace 
them in their primitive state. To remedy the evil, and repair 
the loss, it became necessary that the Son of God, whose merits 
are infinite, clothed in the weakness of our flesh, should remove 
the infinite weight of sin, and reconcile us to God in his blood. 
The belief and profession of this our redemption, as God de 
clared from the beginning, are now, and always have been, neces 
sary to salvation. In the sentence of condemnation, pronounced 
against the human race immediately after the sin of Adam, the 
hope of redemption was held out in these words, which denoun 
ced to the devil, the loss which he was to sustain by man s re 
demption : " I will put enmities between thee and the woman, 
and thy seed and her seed : she shall crush thy head, and thou 
shalt lie in wait for her heel." 3 The same promise he again often 
confirmed, and more distinctly signified his counsels to those 
chiefly whom he desired to make special objects of his predilec 
tion : amongst others to the patriarch Abraham, to whom he often 
declared this mystery, but then more explicitly when, in obedi 
ence to God s command, he was prepared to sacrifice his son 
Isaac : " Because," says he, " thou hast done this thing, and 
hast not spared thy only begotten son for my sake ; I will bless 
thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as 
the sand that is by the sea shore. Thy seed shall possess the 
gates of their enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the 
earth be blessed ; because thou hast obeyed my voice." 4 From 
these words it was easy to infer that he, who was to deliver man 
kind from the ruthless tyranny of Satan, was to be descended from 
Abraham ; and that, whilst he was the Son of God, he was to be 
born of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. Not long af 
ter, to preserve the memory of this promise, he renewed the 
same covenant with Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. When in 
a vision Jacob saw a ladder standing on earth, and its top reach 
ing to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending 
by it, 5 he also heard the Lord saying to him, as the Scripture 

1 Gen. ii. 16, 17. 2 Sess. 5. Can. 1. & 2. Sess. 6. Can. 1. & 2. 3 Gen. iii. 15 
Gen. xxii. 16, 17, 18. 5 Gen. xxviii. 12. 

On the second article of the Creed. 3? 

testifies ; " I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the 
God of Isaac ; the land, wherein thou sleepest, I will give to thee 
and to thy seed ; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth ; 
thou shalt spread abroad to the west and to the east, and to the 
north and to the south ; and in thee and thy seed all the nations 
of the earth shall be blessed." 1 Nor did God cease afterwards 
to excite in the posterity of Abraham, and in many others, the 
hope of a Saviour, by renewing the recollection of the same 
promise ; for, after the establishment of the Jewish republic and 
religion, it became better known to his people. Many types 
signified, and prophets foretold the numerous and invaluable 
blessings which our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, was to bring to 
mankind. And, indeed, the prophets, whose minds were illu 
minated with light from above, foretold the birtli of the Son of 
God, the wondrous works which he wrought whilst on earth, his 
doctrine, manners, kindred, death, resurrection, and the other 
mysterious circumstances regarding him ; 3 and all these as 
graphically as if they werepassingbefore their eyes. With the 
exception of the time only, we can discover no difference be 
tween the predictions of the prophets, and the preaching of the 
apostles, between the faith of the ancient patriarchs, and that of 
Christians But, we are now to speak of the several parts of this 

" JEsus"JThis is the proper name of the man-God, and signifies Meaning o 
Saviour ; a name given him not accidentally, or by the judg- the na m 
ment or will of man, but by the counsel and command of God. w hoiii and 
For the angel announced to Mary his mother : " Behold thou why given 
shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a Son, and 
thou shalt call his name Jesus." 3 He afterwards not only 
commanded Joseph, who was espoused to the Virgin, to call the 
child by that name, but also declared the reason why he should 
be so called : " Joseph," says he, " Son of David, fear not to 
take Mary thy wife, for that which is born in her is of the Holy 
Ghost ; and she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his 
name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins," 4 
In the Sacred Scriptures we meet with many who were called 
by this name the son of Nave, for instance, who succeeded 
Moses, and, by special privilege denied to Moses, conducted 
into the land of promise, the people whom Moses had delivered 
from Egypt ; 5 and Josedech, whose father was a priest. 8 But 
how much more appropriately shall we not deem this name 
given to him, who gave light and liberty and salvation, not to 
one people only, but to all men, of all ages to men oppressed, 
not by famine, or Egyptian, or Babylonish bondage, but sitting 
in the shadow of death and fettered by sin, and riveted in the gall 
ing chains of the devil to him who purchased for them a right 
to the inheritance of heaven, and reconciled them to God ine 

1 Gen. xxviii. 13, 14. 2 Is. vii. 14 ; viii. 3 ; ix. 5 ; xi. 1 53 per totum. Jer. xxiii 
I : xxx. 9. Dan. vii. 13 ; ix. 21. 3 Luke i. 31. Matt. i. 20, 21. 

* Ercl. xlvi. 1. 6 Agg. i. 1. 


M The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 


Father In those men, who were designated by the same 
name, we recognise so many types of Christ our Lord, by 
whom these blessings were accumulated on the human race. 
All other names, which were predicted to be given by divine 
appointment to the Son of God, are to be referred to this one 
name Jesus, 1 for whilst they partially glanced at the salvation 
which he was to purchase for us, this fully embraced the univer 
sal salvation of the human race. 

The name "CHRIST"] To the name "Jesus" is also added that of 
added to hy "Christ," which signifies the "anointed;" a name expressive of 
that of honour and office, and not peculiar to one thing only, but common 
Jesus. to many ; for, in the old law priests and kings, whom God, on 
account of the dignity of their office, commanded to be anointed, 
were called Christs ; 2 Priests, because they commend the peo 
ple to God by unceasing prayer, offer sacrifice to him and depre 
cate his wrath. Kings, because they are entrusted with the go 
vernment of the people, and to them principally belong the au 
thority of the law, the protection of innocence, and the punish 
ment of guilt. As, therefore, both seem to represent the majesty 
of God on earth, those who were appointed to the royal or sacer 
dotal office, were anointed with oil. 3 Prophets also were usually 
anointed, who, as the interpreters and ambassadors of the im 
mortal God, unfolded to us the secrets of heaven, and by salu 
tary precepts, and the prediction of future events, exhorted to 
amendment of life. When Jesus Christ our Saviour came into 
the world, he assumed these three characters of Prophet, Priest, 
and King, and is, therefore, called " Christ," having been anoint 
ed for the discharge of these functions, not by mortal hand, or 
with earthly ointment, but by the power of his heavenly Father, 
and with a spiritual oil ; for the plenitude of the Holy Spirit, 
and a more copious effusion of all gifts, than any created being 
is capable of receiving, were poured into his soul. This the 
prophet clearly indicates, when he addresses the Redeemer in 
these words. " Thou hast loved justice, and hatest iniquity . 
therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness 
before thy fellows." 4 The same is also more explicitly declared 
by the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord," says he," is 
upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me ; he hath sent me 
to preach to the meek." 5 Jesus Christ, therefore, was the great 
prophet and teacher, 8 from whom we have learned the will of 
God, and by whom the world has been taught the knowledge of 
the Father; and the name of Prophet belongs to him pre-emi 
nently, because all others who were dignified with that name 
were his disciples, sent principally to announce the coming of 
that Prophet who was to save all men. Christ was also a 
Priest, not, indeed of the tribe of Levi, as were the priests of 
the old law, but of that of which the prophet David sang : 

1 Is. vii. 14; viii 8; ix. 6. Jer. xxiii. 6. 2 1 Kings xii. 3; xvi. 6; xxiv. 7 
Lev. viii. 30. 3 Kings xix. 15, 16. < Pa. xliv. 8. * Is. Ixi. 1. 

6 Deut. xviii. 15. 

On the second article of the Creed. 35 

" Thou art a Priest for ever according to the order of Melchise- 
dech." 1 This subject the Apostle fully and accurately developes 
in his epistle to the Hebrews.* Christ not only as God, but as 
man, we also acknowledge to be a King : of him the angel testi 
fies ; " He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his 
kingdom there shall be no end." 3 This kingdom of Christ is 
spiritual and eternal, begun on earth, but perfected in heaven : 
and, indeed, he discharges by his admirable providence the du 
ties of King towards his Church, governing and protecting her 
against the open violence and covert designs of her enemies, 
imparting to her not only holiness and righteousness, but also 
power and strength to persevere. But, although the good and 
the bad are contained within the limits of.this kingdom, and thus 
all by right belong to it; yet those, who, in conformity with his 
commands, lead unsullied and innocent lives, experience, beyond 
all others, the sovereign goodness and beneficence of our King. 
Although descended from the most illustrious race of kings, he 
obtained not this kingdom by hereditary or other human right, 
but because God bestowed on him as man all the power, dignity, 
and majesty of which human nature is susceptible. To him, 
therefore, God delivered the government of the whole world, and 
to this his sovereignty, which has already commenced, all things 
shall be made fully and entirely subject on the day of judgment. 4 

" His ONLY SON"] In these words, mysteries more exalted Christ, the 
with regard to Jesus are proposed to the faithful, as objects of ^"true * 1 
their belief and contemplation that he is the Son of God, and God. 
true God, as is the Father who begot him from eternity. We also 
confess that he is the second person of the Blessed Trinity, equal 
in all things to the Father and the Holy Ghost ; for, in the divine 
Persons nothing unequal or unlike should exist, or even be ima 
gined to exist; whereas we acknowledge the essence, will and 
power of all to be one ; a truth clearly revealed in many of the 
oracles of inspiration, and sublimely announced in this testimony 
of St. John : " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word 
was God, and the Word was with God." 5 

But, when we are told that Jesus is the Son of God, AVC are His eternal 
not to understand any thing earthly or mortal of his birth ; but generation 
are firmly to believe, and piously to adore that birth by which, 
from all eternity, the Father begot the Son ; a mystery which 
reason cannot fully conceive or comprehend, and at the contem 
plation of which, overwhelmed, as it were with admiration, we 
should exclaim with the prophet : " Who will declare his gene 
ration?" 6 On this point, then, we are to believe that the Son is 
of the same nature, of the same power and wisdom with the Fa 
ther ; as we more fully profess in these words of the Nicene 
Creed: " And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, born of 
the Father before all ages, God of God, true God of true God, 
begotten, not made, unsubstantial to the Father, by whom all 

i Ps. cix. 4. Heb. v. 5. 2 Heb. v. & vii. =< Luke i. 33. < 1 Cor. 15. 2527. 
* John i. 1. e Is. liii. 8. 


36 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

things \vere made." Amongst the different comparisons em 
ployed to elucidate the mode and manner of this eternal gene 
ration, that which is borrowed from thought seems to come near 
est to its illustration ; and hence St. John calls the Son " the 
word :"* for as the mind, in some sort looking into and under 
standing itself, forms an image of itself, which Theologians ex 
press by the term " word ;" so God, as far, however, as we may 
compare human things to divine, understanding himself, begets 
the eternal Word. Better, however, to contemplate what faith 
proposes, and, in the sincerity of our souls, believe and confess 
that Jesus Christ is true God and true man as God, begotten 
of the Father before all ages as man, born in time of Mary, 
his virgin mother. Whilst we thus acknowledge his twofold 
nativity, we believe him to be one Son, because his divine and 
human natures meet in one person. As to his divine generation 
His unity he has no brethren or coheirs ; being the only begotten Son of 
of person. j ne Father, whilst we mortals are the work of his hands : but, 
if we consider his birth as man, he not only calls many by the 
name of brethren, but regards them as brethren they are those 
who, by faith have received Christ the Lord, and who really, 
and by works of charity, approve the faith which they internally 
profess ; and hence it is that he is called by the Apostle : " the 
first born amongst many brethren." 2 

Whycallcd " OUR LORD"] Of our Saviour many things are recorded in 
!>> different Scripture, some of which clearly apply to him as God, and some 
as man ; because from his different natures he received the 
different properties which belong to each. Hence, we say 
with truth, that Christ is Almighty, Eternal, Infinite, and these 
attributes he has from his divine nature : again, we say of him 
that he suffered, died, and rose again, which manifestly are pro 
perties compatible only with his human nature. 

Whycalled Besides these, there are others common to both natures ; as 
our Lord. w h en j n th.j s article of the Creed, we say : "our Lord ;" a name 
strictly applicable to both. As he is eternal, as well as the Fa 
ther, so is he Lord of all things equally with the Father ; and, 
as he and the Father are not, the one, one God, and the other, 
another God ; but one and the same God ; so likewise he and 
the Father are not, the one, one Lord, and the other, another 
Lord. As man, he is also, for many reasons, appropriately call 
ed " our Lord ;" and first, because he is our Redeemer, who de 
livered us from sin. This is the doctrine of St. Paul: " He 
humbled himself," says the Apostle, " becoming obedient unto 
death ; even to the death of the cross : for which cause God hath 
also exalted him, and hath given him a name, that is above all 
names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those 
that are in heaven, on earth and under the earth ; and that every 
tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory 
of God the Father." 3 And of himself he says, after his resur 
rection : " All power is given me in heaven, and on earth." 4 

John i. 1. ? Rom. viii. 29. phil. H. 811. 4 Matt, xxviii. 18. 

On the third article of the Creed. 37 

He is, also, called " Lord," because in one person both natures, 
the human and divine, are united ; and though he had not died 
for us, he had yet deserved, by this admirable union, to be con 
stituted common Lord of all created things, particularly of those 
who, in all the fervour of their souls, obey and serve him. 

It remains, therefore, that the pastor exhort the faithful to the Matter for 
consideration of these his claims to the title of "our Lord;" exhortation 
that we, who, taking our name from him are called Christians, this 
and who cannot be ignorant of the extent of his favours, par- cle. 
ticularly in having enabled us to understand all these things by 
faith, may know the strict obligation we, above all others, are 
under, of devoting and consecrating ourselves for ever, like faith 
ful servants, to our Redeemer and our Lord. This we promised 
when, at the baptismal font, we were initiated and introduced 
into the Church of God ; for we then declared that we renounced 
the devil and the world, and gave ourselves unreservedly to 
Jesus Christ. But if, to be enrolled as soldiers of Christ, we 
consecrated ourselves by so holy and solemn a profession to our 
Lord, what punishments should we not deserve were we, after 
our entrance into the Church, and after having known the will 
and laws of God, and received the grace of the sacraments, to 
form our lives upon the laws and maxims of the world and the 
devil ; as if, when cleansed in the waters of baptism, we had 
pledged our fidelity to the world and to the devil, and not to 
Christ our Lord and Saviour ! AVhat heart so cold as not to be 
inilamed with love by the benevolence and beneficence exer 
cised towards us by so great a Lord, who, though holding us in 
his power and dominion, as slaves ransomed by his blood, yet 
embraces us with such ardent love as to call us not servants, but 
friends and brethren ?"* This, assuredly, supplies the most 
just and, perhaps, the strongest claim to induce us always to 
acknowledge, venerate and adore him as " our Lord." 



has been said in the preceding Article, the faithful are given to tion f , lh 
understand that, in delivering us from the relentless tyranny of SonolGo<1 - 
Satan, God has conferred a singular and invaluable blessing on 
the human race : but, if we place before our eyes the economy 
of redemption, in it the goodness and beneficence of God shine 
forth with incomparable splendour and magnificence. The pas 
tor, then, will enter on the exposition of this third Article, by 

1 John xv. 14. 

38 TJie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

developing the grandeur of this mystery, which the Sacred Scrip 
tures very frequently propose to our consideration as the princi 
pal source of our eternal salvation. Its meaning he will teach to 
be, that we believe and confess that the same Jesus Christ, our 
only Lord, the Son of God, when he assumed human flesh for 
us in the womb of the Virgin, was not conceived like other men, 
from the seed of man, but in a manner transcending the order 
of nature, that is, by the power of the Holy Ghost ; l so that the 
same person, remaining God as he was from eternity, became 
man, a what he was not befoie. That such is the meaning of 
these words is clear from the confession of the Holy Council of 
Constantinople, which says : " who for us men, and for our 
salvation, came down from heaven, and became incarnate by the 
Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and WAS MADE MAN." The 
same truth we also find unfolded by St. John the Evangelist, 
who imbibed from the bosom of the Saviour himself, the know 
ledge of this most profound mystery. When he had thus de 
clared the nature of the divine Word : " In the beginning was 
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was 
God," he concludes, " And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt 
amongst us." 3 Thus, " the Word," which is a person of the divine 
nature, assumed human nature in such a manner that the person 
of both natures is one and the same : and hence this admirable 
union preserved the actions and properties of both natures, and, 
as we read in St. Leo, that great pontiff, "The lowliness of the 
inferior, was not consumed in the glory of the superior, nor did 
the assumption of the inferior diminish the glory of the supe 
rior." 4 

The work But as an explanation of the words, in which this Article is 
not of one, expressed, is not to be omitted, the pastor will teach that when 
Ihree 1 Per- we say that the Son of God was conceived by the power of the 
sons of the Holy Ghost, we do not mean that this Person alone of the Holy 
Trinity. Trinity accomplished the mystery of the incarnation. Although 
the Son alone assumed human nature, yet all the Persons of the 
Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, were authors 
of this mystery. It is a principle of Christian faith, that what 
ever God does extrinsically, is common to the three Persons, 
and that one neither does more than, nor acts without another. 
But that one emanates from another cannot be common to all ; 
for the Son is begotten of the Father only, the Holy Ghost, pro 
ceeds from the Father and the Son : but whatever proceeds from 
them extrinsically, is the work of the three Persons without dif 
ference of any sort, and of this latter description is the incarna 
tion of the Son of God. 

Why speci- Of those things, notwithstanding, that are common to all, the 
ally ami- g acre j Scriptures often attribute some to one person, some to 
th^Hoiy another : thus, to the Father they attribute power over all things : 
Ghost. to the Son, wisdom ; to the Holy Ghost love ; and hence, as the 
mystery of the incarnation manifests the singular and boundless 

i Matt. i. 20. 2 John i. 14. 3 John i. 114. " Serm. i. de Nat. 

On the third article of the Creed. 39 

love of God towards us, it is, therefore, in some sort peculiarly 
attributed to the Holy Ghost. 

In this mystery we perceive that some things were done which In what na- 
transcend the order of nature, some by the power of nature : ! ural > antl 
thus, in believing that the body of Christ was formed from the pematural." 
most pure blood of his Virgin Mother, we acknowledge the 
operation of human nature, this being a law common to the forma 
tion of all human bodies. But what surpasses the order of nature 
and human comprehension is, that, as soon as the Blessed Virgin 
assented to the announcement of the angel in these words, " Be 
hold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to 
thy word," 1 the most sacred body of Christ was immediately 
formed, and to it was united a rational soul ; and thus, in the same 
instant of time, he was perfect God and perfect man. That this 
was the astonishing and admirable work of the Holy Ghost can 
not be doubted; for according to the order of nature, nobody, 
unless after a certain period of time, can be animated with a hu 
man soul. 

Again, and it should overwhelm us with astonishment ; as The Divi- 
soon as the soul of Christ was united to his body, the Divinity nity united 
became united to both ; and thus at the same time his body was mamty O f 
formed and animated, and the Divinity united to body and soul. Christ. 
Hence, at the same instant, he was perfect God and perfect man, 
and the most Holy Virgin, having at the same moment, conceiv 
ed God and man, is truly and properly, called Mother of God The Virgin 
and man. This, the Angel signified to her when he said : " Be- [j^/J^j 
hold, thou shall conceive in thy wornb, and shall bring forth a Son, and man. 
and thou shall call his name Jesus ; he shall be great, and shall be 
called the Son of ihe Most High." 3 The event verified the pro 
phecy of Isaiah : " Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bring forth 
a Son." 3 Elizabeth also, when, filled with the Holy Ghost, she 
understood ihe conceplion of the Son of God, declared the same 
truth in these words : " Whence is this to me, that the Mother 
of my Lord should come to me ?"* Bui, as the body of Christ 
was formed of the pure blood of the immaculate Virgin wilhoul 
the aid of man, as we have already said, and by the sole opera- from his 
tion of Ihe Holy Ghosl ; so also, al ihe momenl of his concep- 
tion, his soul was replenished wilh an overflowing fulness of the gra ce. 
Spirit of God, and a superabundance of all graces ; for God gave 
not to him, as to others adorned with graces and holiness, his 
Spirit by measure, as Si. John testifies ; 5 but poured into his 
soul ihe plenilude of all graces so abundanlly, that " of his ful 
ness we have all received." 8 

Although possessing thai Spiril by which holy men allained Christ the 
the adoplion of sons of God, he cannol, however, be called ihe Son of God 
adopted Son of God ; for being the Son of God by nature, the S t n b a y ture> 
grace, or name of adoption can, on no account, be deemed ap- adoption, 
plicable to him. 

i Luke i. 38. 2 Luke i. 31, 32. 3 i sa j a h vii. 14. < Luke i 43. 
5 John iii. 34. 6 John i. 16. 

40 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

These heads comprise the substance of what appeared to us to 
demand explanation regarding the admirable mystery of the con- 
How we ception. To reap from them abundant fruit of salvation, the faith- 
are to reap f u l should particularly recall to their recollection, and frequent- 
rialvation* ^ reflect, that it is God who assumed human flesh ; but that 
from the the manner of its assumption transcends the limits of our com- 
*$**? f prehension, not to say, of our powers of expression ; finally, that 
he vouchsafed to become man, in order that we mortals may be 
regenerated children of God. When to these subjects, they ^hall 
have given mature consideration, let them, in the humility of 
faith, believe and adore all the mysteries contained in this Arti 
cle, nor indulge a curious inquisitiveness by investigating and 
scrutinizing them< an attempt scarcely ever unattended with 

Christ born BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY"] These words comprise 
Virgin. ano t ner p ar t o f this Article of the Creed, in the exposition of 
which the pastor should exercise considerable diligence ; because 
the faithful are bound to believe, that Christ our Lord was not 
only conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, but was also 
" born of the Virgin Mary." The words of the Angel, who 
first announced the happy tidings to the world, declare with 
what transports of joy, and emotions of delight, the belief of this 
mystery should be meditated by us: "Behold," says he, "I 
bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the peo 
ple." 1 The song chanted by the heavenly hot clearly conveys 
the same sentiments : Glory," say they, to God in the high 
est : and on earth, peace to men of good-will." 3 . Hence, also, 
began the fulfilment of the splendid promise maOe by Almighty 
God to Abraham, that in his seed all the natiovs of the earth 
should be blessed ; 3 for Mary, whom we truly proclaim and 
venerate as Mother of God, because she brought orth him who 
is, at once, God and man, was descended from V>injy David. 4 
But as the conception itself transcends the order rf nature, so 
also, the birth of the man-God presents to our ct rtemplation 
nothing but what is divine. 

Manner of Besides, a circumstance wonderful beyond expressioi or con- 
his birth, ception, he is born of his Mother without any diminution of her 
maternal virginity ; and as he afterwards went forth from the 
sepulchre whilst it was closed and sealed, and entered the room 
in which his disciples were assembled, " the doors being shut;" 5 
or, not to depart from natural events which we witness every 
day, as the rays of the sun penetrate, without breaking or in 
juring, in the least, the substance of glass ; after alike, but more 
incomprehensible manner, did Jesus Christ come forth from his 
mother s womb without injury to her maternal virginity, which, 
immaculate and perpetual, forms the just theme of our eulogy. 
This was the work of the Holy Ghost, who, at the conception 
and birth of the Son, so favoured the Virgin Mother as to im- 

1 Luke ii. 10. 2 Luke ii. 14. 3 Gen. xxii. 18. 4 Matt. i. 1. 6. 

5 John xx. 19. 

On the third article of the Creed. 41 

part to her fecundity, and yet preserve inviolate her perpetual 

The Apostle, sometimes, called Jesus Christ the second Adam, Christ 
and institutes a comparison between him and the first : for " as compared 
in the first all men die, so in the second all are made alive ;"* M^ da 
and as in the natural order, Adam was the father of the human Eve. 
race ; so, in the supernatural order, Christ is the author of grace 
and of glory. The Virgin Mother we may also compare to Eve, 
making the second Eve, that is Mary, correspond with the first; 
as we have already shown that the second Adam, that is, Christ, 
corresponds witli the first Adam. By believing the serpent, Eve 
entailed malediction and death on mankind ; 2 and Mary, by be 
lieving the Angel, became the instrument of the divine goodness 
in bringing life and benediction to the human race. 3 From Eve we 
are born children of wrath ; from Mary we have received Jesus 
Christ, and through him are regenerated children of grace. To 
Eve it was said : " In sorrow shall thou bring forth children :"* 
Mary was exempt from this law, for preserving her virginal in 
tegrity inviolate, she brought forth Jesus the Son of God, with 
out experiencing, as we have already said, any sense of pain. 

The mysteries of this admirable conception and nativity being, Types ami 
therefore, so great and so numerous, it accorded with the views figures of 
of Divine Providence to signify them by many types and pro- i/I^anT^ 
phesies. Hence the Holy Fathers understood many things nativity, 
which we meet in the Sacred Scriptures to relate to them, par 
ticularly that gate of the Sanctuary which Ezechiel saw closed ; 5 
the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which became 
a great mountain and filled the universe ; 8 the rod of Aaron, 
which alone budded of all the rods of the princes of Israel ; 7 
and the bush which Moses saw burn without being consumed. 8 
The holy Evangelist describes in detail the history of the birth 
of Christ, 9 and, as the pastor can easily recur to the Sacred 
Volume, it is unnecessary for us to say more on the subject. 

But he should labour to impress deeply on the minds and Thelessons 
hearts of the faithful these mysteries, " which were written for which his 
our instruction ;" 10 first, that by the commemoration of so great J^veys 
a benefit they may make some return of gratitude to God, its 
author ; and next, in order to place before their eyes, as a mo 
del for imitation, this striking and singular example of humility. 
What can be more useful, what better calculated to subdue the 
pride and haughtiness of the human heart, than to reflect, fre 
quently, that God humbles himself in such a manner as to as 
sume our frailty and weakness, in order to communicate to us 
his grace and glory that God becomes man, and that he " at 
whose nod," to use the words of Scripture, "the pillars of hea 
ven fear and tremble," 11 bows his supreme and infinite majesty 
to minister to man that he whom the angels adore in heaven 

1 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22. 2 Eccl. xxv. 33. s Eph. i. 3. 1 Gen. iii. 16. 

5 Ezech. xliv. 2. 6 Dan. ii. 35. 7 Num. xvii. 8. 8 E X od. iii. 2. 

9 Luke ii. I0 Rom. xv. 4. " Job xxvi. 11. 

4* F 

42 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

is born on earth ! ! When such is the goodness of God towards 
us, what. I ask, what should we not do to testify our obedience 
to his will ? With what promptitude and alacrity should we 
not love, embrace, and perform all the duties of Christian hu 
mility ? The faithful should also know the salutary lessons 
which Christ teaches at his birth, before he opens his divine 
lips ; he is born in poverty, he is born a stranger under a roof 
not his own, he is born in a lonely crib he is born in the depth 
of winter ! These circumstances, which attend the birth of the 
man-God, are thus recorded by St. Luke : " And it came to pass, 
that, when they were there, her days were accomplished that she 
should be delivered, and she brought forth her first-born son, and 
wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, 
because there was no room for them in the inn." 1 Could the 
Evangelist comprehend under more humble terms the majesty 
and glory that filled the heavens and the earth ? He does not say, 
there was no room in the inn, but " there was no room for him 
who says : mine is the earth and the fulness thereof ;" a and this 
destitution of the man-God another Evangelist records in these 
words ; " He came unto his own, and his own received him not." 3 
The digni- When the faithful have placed these things before their eyes, 
ty which it j et t ], em a ] so reflect, that God condescended to assume the low- 
coniers on ,. , * -\ r a L 11-1, 

man. liness and frailty ol our flesh in order to exalt man to the nign- 

est degree of dignity ; for this single reflection alone supplies 
sufficient proof of the exalted dignity of man conferred on him 
by the divine bounty that he who is true and perfect God 
vouchsafed to become man ; so that we may now glory that the 
Son of God is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, a privi 
lege not given to angels, " for no where," says the apostle, 
" doth he take hold of the angels : but of the seed of Abraham 
he taketh hold." 4 

The influ- AVe must also take care, that these singular blessings rise not 
ence which m judgment against us ; that, as at Bethlehem, the place of his 
hav^on his nativity, he was denied a dwelling ; so also, now that he is no 
life. longer born in human flesh, he be not denied a dwelling in our 

hearts, in which he may be spiritually born : for, through an 
earnest desire for our salvation, this is the object of his most 
anxious solicitude. As then, by the power of the Holy Ghost, 
and in a manner superior to the order of nature, he was made 
man and was born, was holy and even holiness itself; so does 
it become our duty " to be born, not of blood nor of the will of 
flesh, but of God ;" 5 to walk, as new creatures in newness of 
spirit : 8 and to preserve that holiness and purity of soul that be 
come men regenerated by the Spirit of God. 7 Thus shall we 
reflect some faint image of the holy conception and nativity of the 
Son of God, which are the objects of our firm faith, and believ 
ing which we revere and adore "in a mystery, wisdom of God 
which was hidden." 8 

iLukeii. 6, 7. 2 Ps. xlix. 12. 3 j o h n i. 11. "Heb.iilG. 

i John i. 13. 6 Rom. vi. 47. 7 2 Cor. iii. 18. 8 i Cor. ii. 7 

On the fourth article of the Creed. 43 



necessary the knowledge of this Article, and how assiduous the n owledgo 
pastor should be in stirring up, in the minds of the faithful, the and fre- 
frequent recollection of our Lord s passion, we learn from the 
apostle when he says, that he knows nothing but Christ, and 
him crucified. 1 In illustrating this subject, therefore, the great 
est care and pains should be taken by the pastor, that the faith 
ful, excited by the remembrance of so great a benefit, may be 
entirely devoted to the contemplation of the goodness and love 
of God towards us. 

The first part of this Article (of the second we shall treat here- 
after,) proposes to our belief, that when Pontius Pilate governed ^ L e 
the province of Judea, under Tiberius Caesar, Christ the Lord proposes to 
was nailed to a cross. Having been seized as a malefactor, our belief - 
mocked, outraged, and tortured, in various forms, he was finally 
crucified. Nor can it be matter of doubt that his soul, as to its < 
inferior part, was not insensible to these torments ; for as he 
really assumed human nature, it is a necessary consequence that 
he really, and in his soul, experienced a most acute sense of 
pain. Hence these words of the Saviour : " My soul is sorrow 
ful, even unto death." 3 Although human nature was united to 
the divine person, he felt the bitterness of his passion as acutely 
as if no such union had existed ; because in the one person of Je 
sus Christ were preserved the properties of both natures, human 
and divine ; and, therefore, what was passible and mortal remain 
ed passible and mortal ; and again, what was impassible and 
immortal, that is his divine nature, continued impassible and 

But, if we find it here recorded with such historical minute- Why the 
ness, that Jesus Christ suffered when Pilate was procurator of ^^a^ 1 * 
Judea, 3 the pastor will explain the reason it is, that by fixing specially 
the time, as the apostle does, in the sixth chapter of his first recorded. 
Epistle to Timothy, so important and so necessary an event 
may be ascertained by all with greater certainty ; and to show 
that the event verified the prediction of the Saviour; "They 
shall deliver him to the Gentiles, to be mocked, and scourged, and 
crucified." 4 

That he suffered the particular death of the cross is also to be 
traced to the economy of the divine councils, " that whence death 
came, thence life might arise." The serpent, which overcame 
our first parents by the fruit of the tree, was himself overcome 
by Christ on the wood of the cross. Many reasons, which the 

1 1 Cor. ii. 2. 2 Mat. xxvi. 38. Mark xiv. 34. 3 1 Tim. vi. 13. < Mat. xx. 19. 


part of this 
article not 
to be omit 

and prophe 
cies of the 
passion and 
death of 
the Sa 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Holy Fathers have evolved in detail, may be adduced to sho\ 
the congruity of the Saviour s having suffered the death of the 
cross, rather than any other ; but enough that the faithful be in 
formed by the pastor, that that species of death, because con 
fessedly the most ignominious and humiliating, was chosen by 
the Saviour, as most consonant, and best suited to the plan of 
redemption ; for not only amongst the Gentiles was the death 
of the cross deemed execrable and loaded with disgrace and in 
famy, but also amongst the Jews ; for in the law of Moses, the 
man is pronounced " accursed, who hangeth on a tree." 1 

But the historical part of this Article, which has been narrated 
by the Holy Evangelists with the most minute exactness, is not 
to be omitted by the pastor ; in order that the faithful may be 
familiarly acquainted with, at least, the principle heads of this 
mystery, which are of more immediate necessity to confirm the 
truth of our faith. For on this Article, as on a sort of founda-" 
tion, rest the religion and faith of Christians, and on this foun 
dation, when once laid, the superstructure rises with perfect 
security. If any other truth of Christianity presents difficulties 
to the mind of man, the mystery of the cross must, assuredly, 
be considered to present still greater difficulties. We can scarce 
ly be brought to think that our salvation depends on the cross, and 
on him, who for us, was fastened to its wood. But in this, as the 
apostle says, we may admire the supreme wisdom of divine 
providence; "for seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world 
by wisdom knew not God : it pleaseth God by the foolishness 
of our preaching, to save them that believe." 3 We are not, 
therefore, to be surprised, that the Prophets, before the coming 
of Christ, and the apostles after his death and resurrection, 
laboured so industriously to convince mankind that lie was the 
Redeemer of the world, and to bring them under the power and 
obedience of him who was crucified. 

Knowing, therefore, that nothing is so far above the reach of 
human reason as the mystery of the cross, Almighty God, im 
mediately from the fall of Adam, ceased not, both by figures and 
by the oracles of the Prophets, to signify the death by which 
his Son was to die. Not to dwell on these figures, Abel who 
fell a victim to the envy of his brother, 3 Isaac who was com 
manded to be offered in sacrifice, 4 the lamb immolated by the 
Jews on their departure from Egypt, 5 and also the brazen ser 
pent lifted up by Moses in the desert, 6 were all figures of the 
passion and death of Christ the Lord. That this event was fore 
told by many Prophets, is a fact too well known to require de- 
velopement here. Not to speak of David, whose Psalms em 
brace the principal mysteries of redemption, 7 the oracles of 
Isaias are so clear and graphic, 8 that he may be said rather to 
have recorded a past, than predicted a future event. 9 

i Deut. xxi. 23. Gal. iii. 13. 2 ] Cor. i. 21. Gen. iv. 8. 

4 Gen. xxii. G 8. 5 Exod. xi. 5 7. 6 Num. xxi. 8, 9. John iii. 14. 
7 Psalms ii. xxi. Ixvi. cix. 8 Isai. liii. 9 Hier. Episl. ad Faulin. ante finem. 

On the fourth article of the Creed. 45 

"DEAD AND BURIED"] When explaining these words, the pas- Christ 
tor will propose to the belief of the faithful, that Jesus Christ, reall y died 
after his crucifixion, was really dead and buried. It is not with 
out just reason that this is proposed as a separate and distinct ob 
ject of belief; there were some who denied his death upon the 
cross. The apostles, therefore, were justly of opinion, that to 
such an error should be opposed the doctrine of faith contained 
in this Article of the Creed, the truth of which is placed beyond 
the possibilty of doubt, by the concurring testimony of all the 
Evangelists, who record that Jesus "yielded up the ghost." 1 
Moreover, as Christ was true and perfect man, he of course, 
was, also, capable of dying, and death takes place by a separa 
tion of the soul from the body. When, therefore, we say that 
Jesus died, Ave mean that his soul was disunited from his body ; 
not that his divinity was so separated. On the contrary, we Hisdivini- 
firmly believe and profess that, when his soul was dissociated ty united to 
from his body, his divinity continued always united both to his {^f ^"^ 
body in the sepulchre, and to his soul in Limbo. It became the separate ^ 
Son of God to die, " that through death he might destroy him b y deat h- 
who had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil ; and 
might deliver them, who through fear of death, were all their life 
time subject to servitude." 2 

It was the peculiar privilege of the Redeemer to have died His death 
when he himself decreed to die, and to have died, not so much volunt ary, 
by external violence, as by internal assent ; not only his death, 
but also its time and place were ordained by him, as we learn 
from these words of Isaias : " He was offered, because it was 
his own will." 3 The Redeemer, before his passion, declared 
the same of himself: "I lay down my life," says he, "that I 
may take it again. No man taketh it away from me ; but I 
lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down ; and I 
have power to take it again." 4 As to time and place, when 
Herod insidiously sought the life of the Saviour, he said : " Go, 
and tell that fox : behold I cast out devils, and perform cures 
this day and to-morrow, and the third day I am consummate. 
But yet I must walk this day, and to-morrow, and the day fol 
lowing, because it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jeru 
salem." 5 He, therefore, offered himself not involuntarily or by 
external coaction ; but of his own free will. Going to meet his 
enemies, he said, " I am he; 8 and all the punishmentswhich in 
justice and cruelty inflicted on him he endureu voluntarily. 

When we meditate on the sufferings and torments of the Re- and, mere- 
deemer, nothing is better calculated to excite in our souls, sen- fore . fhe 
timents of lively gratitude and love, than to reflect that he endur- ciamfio 
ed them voluntarily. Were any one to endure, by compulsion, our grati- 
every species of suffering, for our sake, we should deem his { llde and 
claims to our gratitude very doubtful ; but were he to endure 
death freely, and for our sake only, having had it in his power 

1 Mat. xxvii. 50. Mark xv. 37. Luke xxiii. 46. John xix. 30. 

2 Heb. ii. 10. 14, 15. 3 i sa ias Hji. 7. 4 J h n x . y lt jg. 5 Luke xiii. 32, 33. 

6 John xviii. 5. 

46 The Catechism of the Council of Trent 

to avoid it; this indeed is a favour eo overwhelming, as to de 
prive even the most grateful heart, not only of the power of re 
turning due thanks, but even of adequately feeling the extent of 
the obligation. We may hence form an idea of the transcendant 
and intense love of Jesus Christ towards us, and of his divine 
and boundless claims to our gratitude. 

Why the But if, when we confess that he was buried, we make this, as 
word " bu- it were, a distinct part of the Article, it is not because it presents 
mentioned an 7 difficulty which is not implied in what we have said of his 
in this death; for believing, as we do, that Christ died, we can also 
article. easily believe that he was buried. The word " buried" was 
added in the creed, first, that his death may be rendered more 
certain, for the strongest proof of a person s death is the inter 
ment of his body ; and, secondly, to render the miracle of his 
resurrection more authentic and illustrious. It is not, however, 
our belief, that the body of Christ was alone interred : these 
words propose, as the principal object of our belief, that God 
was buried ; as, according to the rule of Catholic faith, we also 
say with the strictest truth, that God was born of a virgin, that 
God died ; for, as the divinity was never separated from his 
body which was laid in the sepulchre, we truly confess that 
God was buried. 

The^body As to the place and manner of his burial, what the Evangelists 
incorrupt recor( l on these subjects will be found sufficient for all the pur- 
in the se- poses of the pastor s instructions. 1 There are, however, two 
pulchre. things which demand particular attention ; the one, that the body 
of Christ was, in no degree, corrupted in the sepulchre, accord 
ing to the prediction of the Prophet: " Thou wilt not give thy 
Burial, pas- Holy One to see corruption; 3 the other, and it regards the seve- 
sion, and ral parts of this Article, that burial, passion, and also death, ap- 
toOirisfas P"X to J esus Christ, not as God, but as man: to suffer and 
man, not as die are incidental to human nature only, although they are also 
Go(i - attributed to God, because predicated with propriety of that per 

son who is, at once, perfect God and perfect man. 

Dignity of When the faithful have once attained the knowledge of these 
lufiers things, the pastor will next proceed to explain those particulars 
of the passion and death of Christ, which may enable them, if 
not to comprehend, at least to contemplate the infinitude of so 
stupendous a mystery. And, first, we are to consider who it is 
who suffers. To declare, or even to conceive in thought, his 
dignity, is not given to man. Of him, St. John says, that he 
is "the Word which was with God;" 3 and the apostle describes 
him in these sublime terms : " this is he, whom God hath ap 
pointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world ; 
who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of Us 
substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, 
making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the 
majesty on high." 4 In a word, Jesus Christ, the man-God, suf- 

i Mat. xxvii. 60. Mark xv. 46. Luke xxiii. 53. John xix. 38. 
Psalm xv. 10. Acts ii. 31. 3 J hn i. 1, 2. Heb. i. 2, 3. 

On the fourth article of the Creed. 47 

fers ! The Creator suffers for the creature The Master for the 
servant He suffers, by whom the elements, the heavens, men 
and angels were created, "of whom, by whom, and iu whom, 
are all things." 1 

It cannot, therefore, be matter of surprise that, whilst he ago- Reflection, 
nized under such an accumulation of torments, the whole frame 
of the universe was convulsed, and, as the Scriptures inform us, 
" the eartn trembled, and the rocks were rent, and the sun was 
darkened, and there was darkness all over the earth." 3 If, then, 
even mute and inanimate nature sympathized with the sufferings 
of her dying Lord, let the faithful conceive, if they can, with 
what torrents of tears they, " the living stones of the edifice," 3 
should evince their sorrow. 

The reasons why the Saviour suffered are also to be explain- Reasons 

ed, that thus the greatness and intensity of the divine love to- whyhesu 

i ,1 c T. V,, , , . , lered : firs 

wards us, may the more fully appear. Should it then be asked rea son, his 

why the Son of God underwent the torments of his most bitter love of us. 
passion, we shall find the principal causes in the hereditary 
contagion of primeval guilt ; in the vices and crimes which have 
been perpetrated from the beginning of the world to the present 
day; and in those which shall be perpetrated to the consumma 
tion of time. In his death and passion the Son of God contem 
plated the atonement of all the sins of all ages, with a view to 
efface them for ever, by offering for them to his Eternal Father, 
a superabundant satisfaction ; and thus the principal cause of his 
passion will be found in his love of us. 

Besides, to increase the dignity of this mystery, Christ not Second 
only suffered for sinners; but the very authors and ministers of r ^ ason to 

,, J , , . J alone lor 

all the torments he endured were sinners. Of this the apostle original 
reminds us in these words addressed to the Hebrews : " Think, and actual 
diligently, on him who endured such opposition from sinners sm- 
against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your 
minds." 4 In this guilt are involved all those who fall frequently 
into sin; for, as our sins consigned Christ our Lord to the death 
of the cross, most certainly, those who wallow in sin and ini 
quity, as far as depends on them, " crucify to themselves again 
the Son of God, and make a mockery of him." 5 This our guilt 
takes a deeper die of enormity when contrasted with that of the 
Jews: according to the testimony of the apostle, "if they had 
known it, they never would have crucified the Lord of Glory :" 6 
whilst we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying 
him by our actions, seem, in some sort, to lay violent hands on 
him. 7 

But that Christ the Lord was also delivered over to death by Christ del: 
the Father and by himself, we learn from these words of Isaias : ^ e d ^ t ^ r 
"For the wickedness of my people have I struck him;" 8 and a the Father 
little before, when, filled with the Spirit of God, he sees the ail( l by 


Rom. xi. 36. 2 Mat. xxvii. 51. Luke xxiii. 44, 45. 3 i p e t er ii. 5. 

* Heb. xii. 3. * Heb. vi. 6. 1 Cor. ii. 8- ^ Tit. i. 16. 

8 Isaias liii. 8. 

of his 


48 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Lord covered with stripes and wounds, the same prophet says 
" We all, like sheep, have gone astray, every one hath turned 
aside into his own way ; and the Lord hath laid on him the ni- 
quities of us all." 1 But of the Saviour it is written, " if he will 
lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed." 3 This 
the apostle expresses in language still stronger when, on the 
other hand, he wishes to show us how confidently we should 
trust in the boundless mercy and goodness of God : " He that 
spared not even his own Son," says the apostle, "but delivered 
him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all 
things ?" 3 

The next subject of the pastor s instruction is the bitterness 
of the Redeemer s passion. If, however, we bear in mind that 
"his sweat became as drops of blood, trinkling down upon the 
ground ;"* and this, at the sole anticipation of the torments and 
agony which he was soon after to endure, we must, at once, 
perceive that his sorrows admitted of no increase ; for if, and 
this sweat of blood proclaims it, the very idea of the impending 
evils was so overwhelming, what are we to suppose their actual 
endurance to have been ? 

That our Lord suffered the most excruciating torments of mind 
and body is but too well ascertained. In the first place, there was 
no part of his body that did not experience the most agonising 
torture his hands and feet were fastened with nails to the cross 
his head was pierced with thorns and smitten with a reed his 
face was befouled with spittle and buffeted with blows his 
whole body was covered with stripes Men of all ranks and 
conditions were also gathered together " against the Lord and 
against his Christ." 5 Jews and Gentiles were the advisers, the 
authors, the ministers of his passion Judas betrayed him 5 
Peter denied him 7 all the rest deserted him 8 and, whilst he 
hangs from the instrument of his execution, are we not at a 
loss which to deplore, his agony or his ignominy or both ? 
Surely no death more shameful, none more cruel could have been 
devised than that which was the ordinary punishment of guilty 
and atrocious malefactors only a death the tediousness of which 
aggravated the protraction of its exquisite pain and excruciating 

IV - torture ! His agony was increased by the very constitution and 
frame of his body. Formed by the power of the Holy Ghost, 
it was more perfect and better organised than the bodies of other 
men can be, and was, therefore, endowed with a superior suscep 
tibility of pain, and a keener sense of the torments which it 

V endured : and as to his interior anguish of mind, that, too, was 
no doubt extreme ; for tnose amongst the saints who had to en 
dure torments and tortures, were not without consolation from 
above, which enabled them not only to bear their violence pa 
tiently, but, in many instances, to feel, in the very midst of them, 
elate with interior "joy. "I rejoice," says the apostle, "in my 


1 Isaias liii. 6. 
Psalm ii. 2. 

2 Isaias liii. 10. 
6 Matr. xxvi. 47. 

3 Rom. viii. 32. < Luke xxii. 44 

i Mark xiv. 68. 70, 71. 8 Matt xxvi. 56 

On the fourth article of the Creed. 4U 

sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of 
the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh for his body, which is the 
Church ,"* and in another place, " I am filled with comfort; I 
exceedingly aoound with joy in all our tribulation." 3 Christ our 
Lord tempered with no admixture of sweetness the bitter chalice 
of his passion ; but permitted his human nature to feel as acutely, 
every species of torment, as if he were only man, and not, also, 

The blessings and advantages which flow to the human race, The bloss- 
from the passion of Christ, alone remain to be explained. In in ,^? ? f . 
the first place, then, the passion of our Lord was our deliverance the plente- 
from sin ; for, as St. John says : " He hath loved us and washed oi w source 
us from our sins in his own blood ;" 3 " He hath quickened you 
together with him ;" says the Apostle, " forgiving you all offen 
ces, blotting out the hand writing of the decree that was against 
us, which was contrary to us, and he hath taken away the same, 
fastening it to the cross." 4 He has rescued us from the tyranny If 
of the devil, for our Lord himself says ; " Now is the judgment 
of the world ; now shall the prince of this world be cast out; and I, 
if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself." 5 
He discharged the punishment due to our sins ; and, as no sa- rjj. 
crifice more grateful and acceptable could have been offered to iy. 
God, he reconciled us to the Father, 6 appeased his wrath, and 
propitiated his justice. Finally, by atoning for our sins, he 
opened to us heaven, which was closed by the common sin of 
mankind, according to these words of the Apostle ; " We have, 
therefore, brethren, a confidence in the entering into the Holies 
by the blood of Christ." 7 

Nor are we without a type and figure of this mystery in the Type am) 
old law ; those who were prohibited to return into their native fig" 1 " 60 " 
country, before the death of the high-priest, 8 typified, that, until 
the supreme and eternal High-Priest, Christ Jesus, had died, and 
by dying opened heaven to those who, purified by the sacra 
ments, and gifted with faith, hope, and charity, become partakers 
of his passion ; no one, however just may have been his life, 
could gain admission into his celestial country. 

The pastor will teach that all these inestimable and divine Christ pur- 
blessings flow to us from the passion of Christ; first, because chased our 
the satisfaction which Jesus Christ has, in an admirable manner, r f ( Ji emi> " 
made to his Eternal Father for our sins, is full and complete ; 
and the price which he paid for our ransom not only equals but 
far exceeds the debts contracted by us. Again, the sacrifice was 
most acceptable to God, for when offered by his Son on the altar 
of the cross, it entirely appeased his wrath and indignation. 
This the Apostle teaches, when he says : " Christ loved us, and 
delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for 
an odour of sweetness. "9 Of the redemption which he pur 
chased the prince of the Apostles says : " You Avere not re- 

i Coloss. i. 24. 2 2 Cor. vii. 4. 3 Rev. i. 5. < Col.ii. 13, 1 1. 

s John xii. 31, 32. G2Cor.v. 19. ? Heb. x. 19. 8 Num-xxxv. 25, 

9 Eph. v. 2. 5 Q 

50 TJie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

deemed with corruptible tilings, as gold and silver, from you. 
vain conversations of the tradition of your fathers ; but with the 
precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled." 1 
In his pas- Besides these inestimable blessings, we have also received 
gion he has another of the highest importance. In the passion alone, we 
example of have the most illustrious example of the exercise of every virtue, 
every vir- Patience, and humility, and exalted charity, and meekness, and 
obedience, and unshaken firmness of soul, riot only in suffering 1 
for justice-sake, but also in meeting death, are so conspicuous in 
the suffering Saviour, that we may truly say, that, on the day 
of his passion alone, he offered, in his own person, a living ex 
emplification of all the moral precepts, which he inculcated du 
ring the entire time of his public ministry. This exposition of 
the saving passion of Christ the Lord, we have given briefly 
Would to God ! that these mysteries were always present to our 
minds, and that we learned to suffer, to die, and to be buried 
with Christ ; that, cleansed from the stains of sin, and rising 
with him to newness of life, we may at length, through his 
grace and mercy, be found worthy to be made partakers of the 
glory of his celestial kingdom. 



Know- " HE DESCENDED INTO HELL"] To know the glory of the se- 

ledge of p u lture of our Lord Jesus Christ, of which we have last treated, 
most Ym- is highly important ; but of still higher importance is it to the 
portant. faithful to know the splendid triumphs which he obtained, by 
having subdued the devil and despoiled the powers of hell. Of 
these triumphs, and, also, of his resurrection, we are now about 
to speak ; and, although the latter presents to us a subject which 
might with propriety, be treated under a separate and distinct 
head, yet, following the example of the holy Fathers, we have 
deemed it judicious to imbody it with his descent into hell. 
What its In the first part of this Article, then, we profess that, imme- 
firet part dj a t e ly after the death of Christ, his soul descended into hell, 
and dwelt there whilst his body remained in the grave : and also 
that the same Person of Christ was, at the same time, in hell 
and in the sepulchre. Nor should this excite our surprise ; for 
we have already, frequently said, that although his soul was se 
parated from his body, his divinity was never separated from 
soul or body. 

Meaning of But as the pastor, by explaining the meaning of the word 
h h n r - d hell, n th * s P* ace> ma y tn row considerable light on the exposi- 
fliisArtide tion of this Article, it is to be observed, that by the word hell, is 

1 Pet.i. 18. 19. 

On the fifth article of the Creed. 51 

not here meant the sepulchre, as some have not less impiously 
than ignorantly, imagined ; for, in the preceding Article we 
learned that Christ was buried : and there was no reason whv 
the Apostles, in delivering an article of faith, should repeat the 
same thing in other and more obscure terms. Hell, then, here 
signifies those secret abodes in which are detained the souls that 
have not been admitted to the regions of bliss ; a sense in which 
the word is frequently used in Scripture. Thus, the Apostle 
says, that, " at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of 
those that are in heaven, on earth and in hell ;"* and in the Acts 
of the Apostles, Peter says, that Christ the Lord was again risen, 
" having loosed the sorrows of hell." 3 

These abodes are not all of the same nature, for amongst them, its differ- 
is that most loathsome and dark prison in which the souls of the ? nt m ean- 
clamned are buried with the unclean spirits, in eternal and inextin- in?9 i. 
guishable fire. This dread abode is called Gehenna, the bottom 
less pit, and, strictly speaking, means hell. Amongst them is also II. 
the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of just men are cleansed by 
a temporary punishment, in order to be admitted into their eter 
nal country, " into which nothing defiled entereth." 3 The truth 
of this doctrine founded, as holy councils declare, 4 on Scripture, 
and confirmed by apostolical tradition, demands diligent and fre 
quent exposition, proportioned to the circumstances of the times 
in which we live, when men endure not sound doctrine. Lastly, HI. 
the third kind of abode is that into which the souls of the just, 
who died before Christ, were received, and where, without ex 
periencing any sort of pain, and supported by the blessed hope 
of redemption, they enjoyed peaceful repose. To liberate these 
souls, who, in the bosom of Abraham, were expecting the Sa 
viour, Christ the Lord descended into hell. 

But we are not to imagine that his power and virtue only, but The soul 
we are also firmly to believe that his soul also, really and sub- ofChnst 
stantially descended into hell, according to this conclusive testi- SC en(Ld 
mony of David : " Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell." 5 But, into hell, 
although Christ descended into hell, his supreme power was 
still the same ; nor was the splendour of his sanctity in any 
degree obscured. His descent served rather to prove, that what 
ever has been already said of his sanctity was true ; and that 
as he had previously demonstrated by so many miracles, he was 
truly the Son of God. 

This we shall easily understand by comparing the descent of Difference 
Christ, in its causes and circumstances, with that of the just between 
They descended as captives : 8 He as free and victorious amongst an 
the dead, to subdue those demons by whom, in consequence of others, 
primeval guilt, they were held in captivity they descended, 
some to endure the mos" acute torments, others, though exempt 
from actual pain, yet deprived of the vision of God, and of the 
glory for which they sighed, and consigned to the torture of sus- 

1 Philip, ii. 10. 2 Acts ii. 24. 3 Apoc. xxi. 27. " Trid. Cone. Sess. 25. 
6 Ps. xv. 10. Ps. hxxvii. 5, 6. 

52 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

pense ; Christ the Lord descended, not to suffer, but to liberate 
from suffering the holy and the just who were held in painful cap 
tivity, and to impart to them the fruit of his passion. His su 
preme dignity and power, therefore, suffered no diminution by 
his descent into hell. 

Why he Having explained these things, the pastor will, next, proceed 

descended, to teach that the Son of God descended into hell, that, clothed 
with the spoils of the arch-enemy, he may conduct into heaven 
those holy fathers, and the other just souls, whose liberation 
from prison he had already purchased. This he accomplished 
in an admirable and glorious manner, for his august presence, at 
once shed a celestial lustre upon the captives ; filled them with 
inconceivable joy ; and imparted to them that supreme happi 
ness which consists in the vision of God ; thus verifying his 
promise to the thief on the cross : " Amen, I say to thee, this 
day thou shall be with me in Paradise." 1 This, deliverance of 
the just was, long before, predicted by Ozeas, in these words : 
" O Death ! I will be thy death, Hell ! I will be thy bite :" 3 
and also by the prophet Zachary : " Thou, also, by the blood 
of thy testament, hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit 
wherein is no water ," 3 and lastly, the same is expressed by the 
Apostle in these words : " Despoiling the principalities and 
powers, he hath exposed them confidently, openly triumphing 
over them in himself." 4 

II. However, to comprehend still more clearly the efficacy of this 

mystery, we should frequently call to mind, that not only those 
who were born after the coming of the Saviour, but, also, those 
who preceded that event from the days of Adam, or shall suc 
ceed it to the consummation of time, are included in the redemp 
tion purchased by the death of Christ. Before his death and 
resurrection, heaven was closed against every child of Adam ; 
the souls of the just, on their departure from this life, were 
borne to the bosom of Abraham ; or, as is still the case with 
those who require to be freed from the stains of sin, or die in 
debted to the divine justice, were purified in the fire of purga 

HI. Another reason, also, why Christ descended into hell is, that 

there, as well as in heaven and on earth he may proclaim his 
power and authority ; and that " every knee of things in heaven, 
and on earth, and under the earth, should bend at his name." 5 
And here, who is not filled with admiration and astonishment 
when he contemplates the infinite love of God to man ! Not 
satisfied with having undergone for our sake a most cruel death 
he penetrates the inmost recesses of the earth, to transport into 
bliss the souls whom he so dearly loved, and whose liberation 
from prison he had achieved at the price of his blood ! 
The second "We now come to the second part of the Article, and how in- 
Article! 6 defatigable should be the labours of the pastor in its exposition ; 

Luke xxiii. 43. 2 Ozeas xiii. 14. 3 Zach. ix. 1 1. * Col. ii. 15 

5 Phil. ii. 10. 

On the fifth article of the Creed. 53 

\ve learn irom these words of the Apostle to Timothy; "Be 
mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ is risen again from the 
dead : ?1 words no doubt, addressed not only to Timothy, but 
to all who have care of souls. But the meaning of the Article Its mean- 
is, that after Christ the Lord had expired on the cross, on the m s- 
sixth day and ninth hour, and was buried on the evening of the 
same day by his disciples, who with the permission of the go 
vernor Pilate, laid the body of the Lord, when taken down from 
the cross, in a new tomb, in a garden near at -hand ; his soul 
was reunited to his body, early on the morning of the third day 
after his death, that is on the Lord s-day ; and thus he, who was 
dead during those three days, returned to life, and rose from the 
embraces of the tomb. By the word resurrection, however, we Resrirrer- 

are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the Uon SUI f" 
, , -i -11- rior to the 

dead ; a privilege common with him to many others : but that he natural 

rose by his own power and virtue, a singular prerogative pecu- power of 
liar to him alone ; for it is incompatible with our nature, nor man< 
was it ever given to man to raise himself, by his own power, 
from death to life. This was an exercise of power reserved for 
the omnipotent hand of God, as these words of the Apostle de 
clare ; " for, although he was crucified through weakness, yet 
he liveth by the power of God."* This divine power, having 
never been separated, either from his body whilst in the grave, 
or from his soul whilst disunited from his body, existed in 
both, and gave to both a capability of reuniting ; and thus did 
the Son of God, by his own power, return to life, and rise again 
from the dead. This David foretold, when, filled with the spirit 
of God, he prophesied in these words : " His right hand hath 
wrought for him salvation, and his arm is holy." 3 This we, 
also, have from the divine lips of ihe Redeemer himself: "I 
lay down my life," says he, " that I may take it again ; and I 
have power to lay it down, and power to take it again." 4 To 
the Jews he also said, in confirmation of his doctrine : " Des 
troy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 5 Al 
though the Jews understood him to have spoken thus of the 
magnificent temple of Jerusalem, built of stone: yet, as the 
Scripture, testifies in the same place, " he spoke of the temple 
of his body." 6 We sometimes, it is true, read in Scripture, 
that he was raised by the Father ; 7 but this refers to him as 
man ; as those passages, which, on the other hand, say that he 
rose by his own power, relate to him as God. 8 

It is also the peculiar privilege of Christ to have been the first Christ "the 
who enjoyed this divine prerogative of rising from the dead, for first kegot- 
he is called in Scripture the first begotten of the dead :"" and 0?- 
also, " the first born from the dead ;" 10 the Apostle also says, 
" Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that 
sleep : for by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection 

1 8. 2 2 Cor. xiii. 4. 3 Ps. xcvii. 2. < John x. 17, 18 

6 John ii. 19. John ii. 21. 7 Acts ii. 24 ; iii. 15. 8 Kom. viii. 34. 

9 Apoc. i. 5. 10 Col. i. 18. 


54 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

of the dead : and, as in Adam all die, so, also, in Christ all shall 
be made alive ; but every one in his own order ; the first fruits 
Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his 
coming." 1 These words of the Apostle are to be understood of 
a perfect resurrection, by which we are resuscitated to eternal 
life, being no longer subject to death. In this resurrection Christ 
the Lord holds the first place ; for, if we speak of resurrection, 
that is, of a return to life, subject to the necessity of again dying, 
many were thus raised from the dead before Christ ; 3 all of 
whom, however, were restored to life to die again ; but Christ 
the Lord, having conquered death, rose again to die no more, 
according to this clear testimony of the Apostle : " Christ rising 
again from the dead, dieth now no mpre, death shall no longer 
have dominion over him." 3 

Chnst rose "Tin-: THIRD DAY"] In explanation of these additional 

again on words of the Article, the pastor will inform the people, that 

ihe tin Christ did not remain in the grave during the entire of these 

three days, but, as he lay in the sepulchre during an entire natural 

day, during part of the preceding day, and part of the following, 

he is said, with strictest truth, to have lain in the grave for three 

days, and on the third day, to have risen again from the dead. 

Why on T declare his divinity, he deferred not his resurrection to the 

the third end of the world ; whilst at the same time, to prove his huma- 

da y- nity, and the reality of his death, he rose not immediately, but on 

the third day alter his death, a space of time sufficient to prove 

that he had really died. 

Accord- Here the Fathers of thfe first Council of Constantinople added 
ing to the > the words, "according to the Scriptures," which they received 
whTndded ^ rom Apostolical tradition, and imbodied with the creed, because 
to the the same Apostle teaches the absolute necessity of the mystery 
creed. O f t ] ie resurrection, when he says : " If Christ be not risen 
again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain, 
for you are yet in your sins." 4 Hence, admiring our belief of 
this Article, St. Augustine says : " It is of little moment to be 
lieve that Christ died ; this, the Pagans, Jews, and all the 
wicked believe ; in a word, all believe that Christ died ; but, 
that he rose from the dead is the belief of Christians ; to believe 
that he rose again, this we deem of great moment." 5 Hence it 
is, that our Lord very frequently spoke to his disciples of his 
resurrection ; and seldom or never of his passion without ad 
verting to his resurrection. Thus, when he said : "The Son of 
Man shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and 
scourged and spit upon ; and after they have scourged him, they 
will put him to death ?" he added ; " and the third day he shall 
rise again." 8 Also, when the Jews called upon him to give an 
attestation of the truth of his doctrine by some miraculous sign, 
he said : " A sign shall not be given them but the sign of Jonas 
the Prophet : for as Jonas was three days and three nights in 

1 1 Cor. xv. 2023. 2 3 Kmus xvii. 22. 4 Kings iv. 34. 3 Rom. vi. 9. 

4 1 Cor. xv. 14. 17. August in Ps. cxx. 4. 6 Luke xviii. 32, 33. Matt. xvi. 21. 

On the fifth article of the Creea. 55 

the whale s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and . 
three nights in the bosom of the earth." 1 

To understand, still better, the force and meaning of this Ar- Three 
ticle, there are three things which demand attentive considera- ^j"f^ are 
tion : first, the necessity of the resurrection ; secondly, its end here to be 
and object ; thirdly, the blessings and advantages of which it is explained. 
to us the source. With regard to the first, it was necessary that I. 
he should rise again, in order to manifest the justice of God; ^^f 8 ,!^ 
for it was most congruous that he, who, through obedience to surrection. 
God, was degraded, and loaded with ignominy, should by him be 
exalted. This is a reason assigned by the Apostle in his Epis 
tle to the Philippians : " He humbled himself," says he, " be 
coming obedient unto death ; even unto the death of the cross ; for 
which cause God, also, hath exalted him." 3 He rose, also, to 
confirm our faith, which is necessary to justification : the resur 
rection of Christ from the dead by his own power, affords an 
irrefragable proof of his divinity. It also nurtures and sustains 
our hope, for, as Christ rose again, we rest on an assured hope, 
that we too, shall rise again ; the members must necessarily arrive 
at the condition of their head. This is the conclusion which St. 
Paul draws from the reasoning which he uses in his epistles to 
the Corinthians, 3 and Thessalonians ; 4 and Peter, the prince of 
the Apostle, says : Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, who, according to his great mercy, hath regenera 
ted us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ 
from the dead, unto the inheritance incorruptible." 5 Finally, II. 

the resurrection of our Lord, as the pastor will inculcate, was Its . endantl 

. * , , object, 

necessary to complete the mystery of our salvation and redemp 
tion : by his death, Christ liberated us from the thraldom of sin, 
and restored to us, by his resurrection, the most important of 
those privileges which we had forfeited by sin. Hence these 
words of the Apostle : " He was delivered up for our sins, and 
rose again for our justification." 8 That nothing, therefore, may 
be wanting to perfect the work of our salvation, it was necessary 
that, as he died, he should, also, rise again from the dead. 

From what has been said we can perceive the important ad- III. 
vantages which the resurrection of our Lord has conferred on Its Wesi ? 
the faithful ; in his resurrection, we acknowledge him to be the a dvoma- 
immortal God, full of glory, the conqueror of death and hell ; ges. 
and this we are firmly to believe and openly to profess of Christ 

Again, the resurrection of Christ effectuates our resurrection, n. 
not only as its efficient cause, but also as its model. Thus with 
regard to the resurrection of the body, we have this testimony 
of the Apostle : " by a man came death, and by a man the re 
surrection of the dead." 7 To accomplish the mystery of our 
redemption in all its parts, God made use of the humanity of 
Christ as its efficient instrument, and hence, his resurrection is 

Luke xi. 29. Matt. xii. 39, 40. 2 Philip, ii. 8, 9. 3 1 Cor. xv. 12. 

< 1 Thes. iv. 14. 5 1 Peter i. 3, 4. 6 R m. iv. 25. 7 j Cor. xv. 21. 

56 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

the efficient cause of ours. It is also, the model : his resurrection 
was the most perfect of all ; and as his body, rising to immor 
tal glory, was changed, so shall our bodies also, before frail and 
mortal, be restored and clothed with glory and immortality : in 
the language of the Apostle ; " we look for the Saviour our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, 
made like to the body of his glory." 1 

ill. The same may be said of a soul dead in sin: how the esur- 

rection of Christ is proposed to such a soul as the model of her 
resurrection, we learn from the same Apostle, when he says ; 
" Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we 
also may walk in newness of life ; for if we have been planted 
together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the 
likeness of his resurrection ;" and a little after, " knowing that 
Christ, rising from the dead, dieth no more, death shall no more 
have dominion over him ; for in that he died to sin, he died 
once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. So do you also 
reckon, that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ 
Jesus our Lord." a 

From the resurrection of Christ, therefore, we should derive 
two important lessons of instruction ; the one, that, after we 
have washed away the stains of sin, we should begin to lead a 
new life, distinguished by integrity, innocence, holiness, modesty, 
justice, beneficence, and humility ; the other, that we should so 
persevere in that newness of life, as never more, with the divine 
assistance, to stray from the paths of virtue on which we have 
once entered. 

IV. Nor do the words of the Apostle prove only that the resurrec 

tion of Christ is proposed as the model of our resurrection ; they 
also, declare that it gives us power to rise again ; and imparts 
to us strength and courage to persevere -in holiness and righteous 
ness, and in the observance of the commandments of God. As 
his death not only furnishes us with an example, but also sup 
plies us with strength to die to sin ; so also, his resurrection 
invigorates us to attain righteousness ; that worshipping God in 
piety and holiness, we may walk in the newness of life to which 
we have risen ; for the Redeemer achieved principally by his re 
surrection, that we, who before died with him to sin, and to the 
world, may rise, also, with him again to a new discipline and 
manner of life. 

Principal The principal proofs of this resurrection from sin which demand 
proofs of a observation, are comprised in these words of the Apostle : " If 
twn frora y ou ^ e risen wli ^ Christ, seek the things that are above, where 
tin. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God." 3 Here, he distinctly 

tells us, that they, whose desire of life, honours, riches, and re 
pose, are directed chiefly to the place in which Christ dwells, 
have truly risen with him : but when he adds : " Mind the 
things that are above, not the things that are on the earth ;" 4 he 
gives this, as it were, as another standard, by which we may 

Phil. iii. 20, 21. 2 R om . yi. 46. 911. 3 Col. iii. 1 . * Col. iii. 2. 

On the sixth article of the Creed. 57 

ascertain if we have truly risen with Christ ; for as a relish for 
food indicates a healthy state of the body : so, with regard to 
the soul, if we relish " whatever is true, whatever is modest, 
whatever is just, whatever is holy," 1 and experience within us 
a sense of the sweetness of heavenly things ; this we may con 
sider a very strong proof, that with Christ we have risen to a 
new and spiritual life. 



" HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN"] Filled with the Spirit of Triumphoi 
God, and contemplating the blessed and glorious ascension of g^"^^" 
our Lord into heaven, the prophet David exhorts all to celebrate to be cele- 
that splendid triumph, with the greatest joy and gladness : " Clap brated by 
your hands," said he, " all ye nations, shout unto God with the 
voice of joy. God is ascended with jubilee, and the Lord with 
the sound of trumpet." 3 The pastor will hence learn the obli 
gation imposed on him, of explaining this mystery with unre 
mitting assiduity, and of taking especial care that the faithful 
not only see it with the light of faith, and of the understanding ; 
but still more, that, as far as it is in his power to accomplish, 
they make it their study, with the divine assistance, to reflect its 
image in their lives and actions. 

With regard, then, to the exposition of this sixth Article, First part 
which has reference, principally, to the divine mystery of the [ the vv 4 u tl " 
ascension; we shall begin with its first part, and point out its itteacbas 
lorce and meaning. That Jesus Christ, having fully accom- ustobe- 
plished the work of redemption, ascended, as man, body and lieve j 
soul, into heaven, the faithful are unhesitatingly to believe ; for 
as God, he never forsook heaven, filling as he does all places 
with his divinity. 

The pastor is, also, to teach that he ascended by his own II. 
power, not by the power of another as did Elias, who was taken 
jp into heaven in a fiery chariot ; 3 or, as the prophet Habacuc ;* 
or Philip, the deacon, who were borne through the air by the 
divine power, and traversed the distant regions of the earth. 5 
Neither did he ascend into heaven, solely by the exercise of his m. 
supreme power as God, but also, by virtue of the power which 
he possessed as man ; although human power alone was insuffi 
cient to raise him from the dead, yet the virtue, with which the 
blessed soul of Christ was endowed, was capable of moving the 
body as it pleased, and his body, now glorified, readily obeyed 
its impulsive dominion. Hence, we believe that Christ ascended 

i Phil. iv. 8. 2 p s . xlvj. 1.6. 34 Rings ii. 1 ] . 4 Dan. xiv. 35 

s Acts viii. 39. 


part of the 
A trope. 

What the 
word sit- 
teth means 

History of 
the ascen 

All other 
refer to it 
as to their 
end and 

Tenor of 
the Sa 
viour s life 
with his as 

Reasons of 
the ascen 


7 he Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

into heaven as God and man, by his own power. We now 
come to the second part of the Article. 

MIGHTY"] In these words we observe a trope, that is, the 
changing of a word from its literal, to a figurative meaning, a 
thing not nnfrequent in Scripture, 1 when, accommodating its lan 
guage to human ideas, it attributes human affections and human 
members to God, who, spirit as he is, admits of nothing corpo 
real. But, as amongst men, he who sits at the right hand is 
considered to occupy the most honourable place, so, transferring 
the idea to celestial things, to express the glory which Christ, 
as man, enjoys above all others, we confess that he sits at the 
right hand of his Eternal Father. This, however, does not 
imply position and figure of body : but declares the fixed and 
permanent possession of royal and supreme power and glory, . 
which he received from the Father; as the Apostle says : " rais 
ing him up from the dead, and setting him on his right hand in 
the heavenly places, above all principality, and power, and virtue, 
and domination, and every name that is named, not only in this 
world, but also in that which is to come ; and he hath subjected 
all things und^r his feet." u These words manifestly imply that 
this glory belongs to our Lord, in so special a manner, that it 
cannot consist with the nature of any other created being ; and 
hence, in another place, the Apostle asks : " To which of 
the angels said he at any time, sit on my right hand, till I make 
thine enemies thy footstool ?" 3 

But the pastor will explain the sense of the Article, more at large 
by detailing the history of the ascension, of which the evangelist 
St. Luke has left us an admirable description, in the Acts of the 
Apostles. 4 In his exposition, he will observe, in the first place, 
that all other mysteries refer to the ascension, as to their end and 
completion; as all the mysteries of religion commence with the 
Incarnation of our Lord, so his sojourn on earth terminates with 
his ascension into heaven. Moreover, the other Articles of the 
Creed, which regard Christ the Lord, show his great humility 
and lowliness : nothing can be conceived more humble, nothing 
more lowly, than that the Son of God assumed the frailty of our 
flesh, suffered and died for us ; but nothing more magnificently, 
nothing more admirably proclaims his sovereign glory and divine 
majesty, than what is contained in the present and preceding ar 
ticles, in which we declare, that he rose from the dead, ascended 
into heaven, and now sits at the right hand of his Eternal Father. 

When the pastor has accurately explained these truths, he will 
next inform the faithful, why our Lord ascended into heaven. 
He ascended because the glorious kingdom of the highest hea 
vens, not the obscure abode of this earth, presented a suitable 
dAvelling-place to him whose glorified body, rising from the tomb, 
was clothed with immortality. He ascended, not only to possess 

1 Dionys. Areop. Epist ix. 
Basil, lib*, de Spir. Sanct c. vi. 

2 Eph. i. 20 22, Athan. Serm. 1 contra Arian. 
3 Heb. i. 13. * Acts i. 

On the sixth article of the Creed. 59 

the throne of glory, and the kingdom which he purchased at the 
price of his blood, but also to attend to whatever regards the sal 
vation of his people. He ascended, to prove thereby that " his HI. 
kingdom is not of this world," 1 for the kingdoms of this world 
are terrene and transient, and are based upon wealth and the 
power of the flesh ; but the kingdom of Christ is not as the 
Jews expected, an earthly, but a spiritual and eternal kingdom. 
Its riches, too, are spiritual, as he shows by placing nis throne 
in the heavens, where they, who seek most earnestly the things 
that are of God, abound most in riches and in abundance of all 
good things, according to these words of St. James : " Hath not 
God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith and heirs of the 
kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him ?" 3 

He also ascended into heaven, in order to teach us to follow iy ; 
him thither in mind and heart, for as, by his death and resurrec 
tion, he bequeathed to us an example of dying and rising again 
in spirit ; so by his ascension he teaches us, though dwelling on 
earth, to raise ourselves in thought and desire to heaven, " con 
fessing that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, 3 seeking 
a country ;" " fellow-citizens with the saints, and the domestics 
of God ;"* " for," says the same Apostle, " our conversation is 
in heaven." 5 

The extent and unspeakable greatness of the blessings, which V 
the bounty of God has bestowed on us with a lavish hand, were, 
long before, as the Apostle interprets him, sung by David in 
these words: " He ascended on high, led captivity captive, and 
gave gifts to men." 6 On the tenth day after his ascension, he 
sent down the Holy Ghost, with whose power and plenitude he VI 
filled the multitude of the faithful, then present, and fulfilled his 
splendid promise : " It is expedient for you that I go; for if I 
go not, the Paraclete will not come to you ; but, if I go, I will 
send him to you." 7 He also ascended into heaven, according VIL 
to the Apostle, " that he may appear in the presence of God for 
us," 8 and discharge for us the office of advocate with the Father: 
My, little children," says St. John, " these things I write to 
you, that you may not sin, but if any man sin, we have an ad 
vocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just, and he is the pro 
pitiation for our sins." 8 There is nothing from which the faith 
ful should derive greater joy than from the reflection that Jesus 
Christ is constituted our advocate and intercessor with the Fa 
ther, with whom his influence and authority are supreme. 

Finally, by his ascension, he has prepared for us a place, as VIII 
he had promised, and has entered, as our head, in the name of 
us all, into the possession of the glory of heaven. 10 Ascending 
into heaven, he threw open its gates, which had been closed by 
the sin of Adam ; and, as he foretold his disciples, at his last 
supper, secured to us a way by which we may arrive at eternal 

i John xviii. 36. 2 James ii. 5. 3 Heb. xi. 13, 14. Eph. ii. 19. 

6 Philip, iii. 20. 6 p s . i xv ji. 19. Eph. iv. 8. John xvi. 7, 8. Acts i. 4, 5. 

8 Heb. ix. 24. 91 Johnii. 1,2. >Johnxiv.2. 

60 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

happiness. In order to demonstrate this by the event, he intro 
duced, with himself into the mansions of eternal bliss, the souls 
of the just whom he had liberated from prison. 

Its other A- series of important advantages followed in the train of this 
advanta- admirable profusion of celestial gifts : in the first place the merit 
ges- T of our faith was considerably augmented ; because faith has for 
its object those things which fall not under the senses, and are 
far raised above the reach of human reason and intelligence. If 
therefore, the Lord had not departed from us, the merit of ou* 
faith should not be the same, for Jesus Christ has ."aid : " Bless- 
II ed are they who have not seen and have believed "* Kn the nox 
place, it contributes much to confirm our hope : believing thai 
Christ, as man, ascended into heaven, and placed our nature ai 
the right hand of God the Father, we are animated with a stron? 
hope that we, as members, shall also ascend thither, to be there 
united to our head, according to these words of our Lord him 
self: "Father, I will, that where I am, they, also, whom thou 
hast given me, may be with me." 2 

HI. Another most important advantage, flowing; from the ascension, 

is, that it elevates our affections to heaven, and inflames them 
with the Spirit of God; for, most truly has it been said, that, 
" where our treasure is, there, also, is our heart." 3 And, in 
deed, were Christ the Lord dwelling on earth, the contempla 
tion of his person, aud the enjoyment of his presence, must ab 
sorb all our thoughts, and we should view the author of such 
blessings only as man, and cherish towards him H sort of earthlv 
affection : but, by his ascension into heaven, he has spiritualized 
our affection for him, and has made us venerate and love as God. 
him who, now absent, is the object of our thoughts, not of our 
senses. This we learn, in part, from the example of the Apos 
tles, who, whilst our Lord was personally present with them, 
seemed to judge of him, in some measure, humanly ; and, in part, 
from these words of our Lord himself: " It is expedient for you 
that I go." 4 The affection, with which they loved him when 
present, was to be perfected by divine love, and that, by the 
coming of the Holy Ghost; and, therefore, he immediately sub 
joins : " If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you." 
IV. Besides, he thus enlarged his dwellingplace on earth, that is, 

his Church, which was to be governed by the power and guid 
ance of the Holy Spirit ; and left Peter the prince of the Apos 
tles, as chief pastor, and supreme head upon earth, of the uni 
versal Church. " Some, also, he gave Apostles, some Prophets, 
and other some Evangelists, and other some Pastors and Doc 
tors," 5 and, thus, seated at the right hand of the Father, he con 
tinually bestows different gifts on different men ; according to 
the words of St. Paul : " To every one of us is given grace, ac 
cording to the measure of the giving of Christ." 6 
V Finally, what was already said of his death and resurrection 

i John xx. 29. 2 j on n xvii. 24. 3 Malt. vi. 21. < John xvi. 7. 

5 Eph. iv II. 6 Eph. iv. 7. 

On the seventh article of the Creed. 61 

the faithful will deem not less true of his ascension; for, al 
though we owe our redemption and salvation to the passion of 
Christ, whose merits opened heaven to the just, yet his ascen 
sion is not only proposed to us as a model, which teaches* us 
to look on high, and ascend in spirit into heaven : but also im 
parts to us a divine virtue which enables us to accomplish what 
it teaches. 




JESUS CHRIST is invested with three eminent offices and func- The three 
lions, those of Redeemer, Patron, and Judge. But as, in the prece- fl> ces of 
ding Articles, we have shown that the human race was redeemed 
by his passion and death ; and as, by his ascension into heaven, it 
is manifest that he has undertaken the perpetual advocacy and 
patronage of our cause; it next follows, that, in this Article, we 
set forth his character as judge. The scope and intent of the Meaningot 
Article is to declare, that on the last day he will judge the whole the Article. 
human race : the Sacred Scriptures inform us, that there are two Last ( Jutlir 
comings of Christ, the one, when he assumed human flesh, for 
our Salvation, in the womb of a virgin ; the other, when he shall 
come, at the end of the world, to judge mankind. This coming 
is called, in Scripture, " The day of the Lord :" " The day of 
the Lord," says the Apostle, " shall come, as a thief in the 
night ;"* and our Lord himself says : " Of that day and hour no 
body knoweth." 3 In proof of the last judgment, it is enough to 
adduce the authority of the Apostle: " We must all," says he, 
" appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may 
receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, 
whether it be good or evil." 3 Sacred Scripture abounds in tes 
timonies to the same effect, which the pastor will meet, every 
where, throughout the Inspired Volume, 4 and which not only 
establish the truth of the dogma, but also place it, in vivid co 
lours, before the eyes of the faithful : that as, from the begin 
ning, the day of the Lord, on which he was clothed with our 
flesh, was sighed for by all, as the foundation of their hope of 
deliverance ; so also, after the death and ascension of the Son of 
God, the second day of the Lord may be the object of our most 
earnest desires ; " looking for the blessed hope and coming of 
the glory of the great God." 5 

But, with a view to the better explanation of this subject, the Two 
pastor is to distinguish two distinct periods at which every one meilts 

1 Thess. y. 2. 2 Matt. xxiy. 36. Mark xiii. 32. a 2 Cor. v. 10. 

4 1 Kings ii. 10. Isaias ii. 12. 19 : xiii. 9. Jerem. xxx. 23. Dan. A ii. 9. Joel ii. 1. 
5 Tit. ii. 13. 


62 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

must appear in the presence of God, to render an account of all 
his thoughts, words, and actions, and receive sentence according- 
Particular. ly s from the mouth of his judge : the first, when each one departs 
thjis life ; for he is instantly placed before the judgment seat of 
God, where all that he had ever done, or spoken, or thought, 
during life, shall be subjected to the most rigid scrutiny ; and 
General, this is called the particular judgment : the second, when, on the 
same day, and in the same place, all men shall stand together, 
before the tribunal of their judge, that, in the presence and 
hearing of a congregated world, each may know his final doom : 
an announcement which will constitute no small part of the pain 
and punishment of the wicked, and of the remuneration and re 
wards of the just; when the tenor of each man s life shall appear 
Why a ge- in its true colours. This is called the general judgment ; and it 
neraljudg- becomes an indispensable duty of the pastor to show why, be 
sides the particular judgment of each individual, a general one 

I. should also be passed upon the assembled world. The first rea 
son is founded on circumstances that must augment the rewards 
or aggravate the punishments of the dead. Those who depar* 
this life sometimes leave behind them children who imitate thp 
conduct of their parents, dependants, followers ; and others who 
admire and advocate the example, the language, the conduct of 
those on whom they depend, and whose example they follow ; 
and as the good or bad influence of example, affecting as it does, 
the conduct of many, is to terminate only with this world ; jus 
tice demands that, in order to form a proper estimate of the 
good or bad actions of all, a general judgment should take place. 

II. Moreover, as the character of the virtuous frequently suffers 
from misrepresentation, whilst that of the wicked obtains the 
commendation of virtue ; the justice of God demands that the 
former recover, in the presence and with the suffrage of a con 
gregated world, the good name of which they had been unjustly 
deprived before men. 

III. Again, as the good and the bad perform their good and bad 
actions not without the co-operation of the body, these actions are 
common to the body as their instrument ; and the body, there 
fore, should participate with the soul in the eternal rewards of 
virtue, or the everlasting punishments of vice ; and this can only 
be accomplished by means of a general resurrection and of a ge 
neral judgment. 

IV. Finally, it was important to prove, that in prosperity and ad 
versity, which are sometimes the promiscuous lot of the good 
and of the bad, everything is ordered by an all-wise, all-just, and 
all-ruling Providence : it was therefore, necessary not only, that 
rewards and punishments should await us in the next life ; but 
that they should be awarded by a public and general judgment ; 
that thus they may be better known and rendered more conspicu 
ous to all ; and that, in atonement for the querulous murmur- 
ings, to which, on seeing the wicked abound in wealth and 
flourish in honours, even the Saints themselves, as men, have 

On the seventh article of the Creed. 63 

sometimes given expression ; a tribute of praise may be offered 
by all to the justice and providence of God. " My feet," says 
the Prophet, were almost moved, my steps had well nigh 
slipt ; because I had a zeal on occasion of the wicked, seeing 
the prosperity of sinners :" and a little after: " Behold ! these 
are sinners, and yet abounding in the world, they have obtained 
riches ; and I said, then have I in vain justified my heart, and 
washed my hands among the innocent ; and I have been scourged 
all the day; and my chastisement hath been in the morning." 1 
This has been the frequent complaint of many, and a general 
judgment is, therefore, necessary, lest, perhaps, men may be 
tempted to say that God, " walking about the poles of heaven," 3 
regards not the earth. Wisely, therefore, has this truth been 
made one of the twelve articles of the Christian creed, that 
should any be tempted to doubt for a moment, their faith may 
be confirmed by the satisfactory reasons which this doctrine 
presents to the mind. Besides, the just should be encouraged v 
by the hope, the wicked appalled by the terror of a future judg 
ment ; that knowing the justice of God, the former may not be 
disheartened, and, dreading his eternal judgments, the latter may 
be recalled from the paths of vice. Hence speaking of the last 
day, our Lord and Saviour declares, that a general judgment 
will, one day take place, and describes the signs of its approach ; 
that seeing them, we may know that the end of the world is at 
hand. 3 At his ascension also, to console his Apostles, over 
whelmed with grief at his departure, he sent Angels, who said 
to them : " This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, 
shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven."* 

That this judgment is ascribed to Christ our Lord, not only as Christ not 
God, but also as man, is expressly declared in Scripture : for ( " ll y ^ 
although the power of judging is common to all the Persons of a i so as 
die blessed Trinity, yet it is specially attributed to the Son, be- manum- 
cause to him also in a special manner, is ascribed wisdom. But ^[j^, 1 
that as man, he will judge the world, is confirmed by the testi 
mony of our Lord himself when he says: " As the Father hath 
life in himself; so he hath given to the Son also, to have life in 
himself; and he hath given him power to do judgment, because he 
is the Son of Man." 5 There is a peculiar propriety in Christ s Why as 
sitting in judgment on this occasion ; that as sentence is to be man ? 
pronounced on mankind, they may see their judge with their 
eyes, and hear him with their ears, and thus learn their final 
doom, through the medium of the senses. Most just is it also, 
that he who was most iniquitously condemned by the judgment 
of men, should himself be, afterwards seen by all men sitting in 
judgment on all. Hence the prince of the Apostles, when ex 
pounding, in the house of Cornelius, the principal dogmas of 
Christianity, and teaching that Christ was suspended from a 
cross, and put to death by the Jews, and rose the third day 

i ft. Ixiii. 2, 3. 12 14- 2Jobxxii. 14. 3 Matt, xxiv. 29. * Acts ill. 
5 John v 26, 27. 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

The last 
The good 

to life, added : " and he has commanded us to preacr , and to 
testify to the people, that this is he, who was appointed of God 
to be the judge of the living and the dead." 1 

Signs The Sacred Scriptures also inform us, that the general judg- 

which are me nt s } ia ji be preceded by these three principal signs, the preach- 
the P general ing f ^ ie Gospel throughout the world, a defection from the 
judgment faith, and the coming of Antichrist. " This Gospel of the king 
dom," says our Lord, " shall be preached in the whole world, 
for a testimony to all nations, and then shall come the consum 
mation." 3 The apostle also admonishes us that we be not se 
duced by any one, "as if the day of the Lord were at hand ; for 
unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, 
the son of perdition," 3 the judgment will not come. 

The form and procedure of this judgment the pastor will easily 
learn from the oracles of Daniel, 4 the writings of the Evangelists 
and the doctrine of the Apostle. The sentence, also, to be pro 
nounced by the judge, is here deserving of more than ordinary 
attention. Looking to the just standing on his right, with a coun 
tenance beaming with joy, the Redeemer will pronounce sentence 
on them, with the greatest benignity, in these words : " Come ye 
blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you 
from the beginning of the world." 5 That nothing can be con 
ceived, more delightful to the ear than these words, we shall 
comprehend, if we only compare them with the sentence of con 
demnation to be hurled against the wicked ; and call to mind, 
that by them the just are invited from labour to rest, from the 
vale of tears to the mansions of joy, from temporal misery to 
eternal happiness, the reward of their works of charity. 

Turning next to those who shall stand on his left, he will pour 
out his justice on them in these words : " Depart from me, ye cur 
sed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." 8 
These first words, " depart from me," express the heaviest pu 
nishment with which the wicked shall be visited their eternal 
banishment from the sight of God, unrelieved by one consolatory 
hope of recovering so great a good. This divines call " the pain 
of loss," because in hell, the wicked shall be deprived of the 
light of the vision of God. 7 The words " ye cursed," which are 
added, must augment to an extreme degree, their wretched and 
calamitous condition. If when banished from the Divine pre 
sence, they could hope for blessing of any sort, it might be to 
them some source of consolation ; but deprived of every such 
expectation that could alleviate calamity, the divine justice, 
whose severity their crimes have provoked, pursues them with 
every species of malediction. The words, " into everlasting 
fire," which follow, express another sort of punishment, called 
by Divines " the pain of sense ; because, like other corporal 
punishments, amongst which, no doubt, fire produces the most 

i Acts x. 42. 2 Matt. xxiv. 14. 3 2 Thess. ii. 2, 3. < Dan. vii. 9. 

s Matt. xxv. 34. 6 Matt. xxv. 41. 7 Chrysost. in Matth. horn. 23. August 

Serm. 181. de temp. Greg. lib. 9. moral, cap. 46. 

The bad 

On the eighth article of the Creed. 6f> 

intense pain, it is felt through the organs of sense. When, 
moreover, we reflect that this pain is to be eternal, we are at 
once satisfied that the punishment of the damned admits of no 

These ^re considerations, which the pastor should very fre- The faith- 
quently press upon the attention of the faithful; the truth which ^^^1 
this Article announces, seen with the eyes of faith, is most effi- reminde/ 
cacious in bridling the perverse propensities of the heart, and ? f the last 
withdrawing souls from sin. 1 Hence we read in Ecclesiasticus : Jt 
" Remember thy last end, and thou shall never sin." 3 And in 
deed, it is almost impossible to find one so prone to vice, as not 
to be capable of being recalled to the pursuit of virtue, by the 
reflection that the day will come when he shall have to render 
an account before a most rigorous judge, not only of all his 
words and actions, but even of his most secret thoughts, and 
shall suffer punishment according to his deserts. But the just 
man must be more and more excited to cultivate justice, and, 
although doomed to spend his life in want, and obloquy, and 
torments, he must be transported with the greatest joy, when he 
looks forward to that day on which, when the conflicts of this 
wretched life are over, he shall be declared victorious in the 
hearing of all men ; and admitted into his heavenly country, 
shall be crowned with divine, and these, also, eternal honours. 
It becomes, therefore, the duty of the pastor to exhort the faith 
ful to model their lives after the best manner, and exercise them 
selves in evr j ry practice of piety ; that thus they may be enabled 
to look forward with greater security, to the great coming day of 
.he Lord, and even as becomes children, desire it most earnestly. 



HITHERTO we have expounded, as far as the nature of the Necessity 
subject seemed to require, what regards the first and second f Faith m 
Persons of the Holy Trinity. It now remains to explain what Ghost, 
the Creed contains with regard to the third Person, the Holy 
Ghost. On this subject, also, the pastor will omit nothing that 
study and assiduity can effect ; for on this, and the preceding 
Articles, error were alike unpardonable. Hence, the Apostle is 
careful to instruct some amongst the Ephesians, with regard to the 
Person of the Holy Ghost. 3 Having asked if they had received 
the Holy Ghost, and having received for answer, that they did 
not so much as know the existence of the Holy Spirit, he imme 
diately subjoins : " In whom, therefore, were you baptised ?" 

1 Aug. senn. 128. de temp. Greg. hom. 39. in Evang. Bernard serm. 1. in festo 
crtmjiim Sanctorum. 2 Eccles. vii. 40. 3 A C ( S x j x . 2. 

6 I 

66 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

to signify that a distinct knowledge of this Article is most ne 
cessary to the faithful. From it they derive this special fruit 
considering, attentively, that whatever they possess, they pos 
sess through the bounty and beneficence of the Holy Spirit 
they learn to think more modestly and humbly of themselves 
and to place all their hopes in the protection of God, which is the 
first step towards consummate wisdom and supreme happiness 
Meaningof The exposition of this Article, therefore, should begin with 
u 6 !^?^ 3 the meaning here attached to the words, Holy Ghost; for, as 

HolyGhoat . . ,. e . . i- i i T-< i 11 

this appellation is equally true when applied to the r ather and the 
Son, (both are spirit, both holy,) and also includes angels, and 
the souls of the just ; care must be taken that the faithful be not 
led into error by the ambiguity of the words. The pastor, then, 
will teach, in this Article, that by the words Holy Ghost, is un 
derstood the third Person of the blessed Trinity ; a sense in 
which they are used, sometimes in the Old, and frequently in 
the New Testament. Thus David prays : " Take not thy Holy 
Spirit from me ;"* and in the Book of Wisdom, we read : " Who 
shall know thy thoughts, except thou give wisdom, and send thy 
Holy Spirit from above ?" a And in another place : " He crea 
ted her in the Holy Ghost." 3 We are also commanded, in the 
New Testament, to be baptised, "in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost :"* we read that the 
most holy Virgin conceived of the Holy Ghost ; 5 and we are 
sent by St. John to Christ, " who baptiseth us in the Holy 
Ghost;" 6 with a variety of other passages in which the words 
Holy Ghost occur. 

Why the Nor should it be deemed matter of surprise, that a proper 
hird Per- name j s no t given to the third, as to the first and second Per- 
holy TrinL sons : the second Person is designated by a proper name, and 
ty has no called Son, because, as has been explained in the preceding 
Articles, his eternal birth from the Father is properly called ge 
neration. As, therefore, that birth is expressed by the word ge 
neration ; so the Person, emanating from that generation, is 
properly called Son, and the Person, from whom he emanates, 
Father. But as the production of the third Person is characterised 
by no proper name, but is called spiration and procession ; the 
Person produced is, consequently, characterised by no proper 
name. As, however, we are obliged to borrow, from created 
objects, the names given to God, and know no other created 
means of communicating nature and essence than that of genera 
tion ; we cannot discover a proper name to express the manner 
in which God communicates himself entire, by the force of his 
love. Unable, therefore, to express the emanation of the third 
Person, by a proper, we have recourse to the common name of 
Holy Ghost ; a name, however, peculiarly appropriate to him who 
infuses into us spiritual life, and without whose holy inspiration, 
we can do nothing meritorious of eternal life 

Ps. 1. 12, 13. 2 Wis. ix. 17. 3 Eccles. i. 9- < Matt xxviii. 19- 

5 Matt. i. 20. Luke i. 35. <> John i. 33. 

On the eighth article of the Creed. 67 

But the people, when once acquainted with the import of the The Holy 
name, should, first of all, be taught that he is equally God with G KSt 
the Father and the Son, equally omnipotent, eternal, perfect, the God with 
supreme good, infinitely wise, and of the same nature with the the Father 
Father and the Son. All this is, obviously enough, implied by ^ n l 
the force of the word "in," when we say: "I believe in the i. 
Holy Griost ;" which, to mark the particularity of our faith, is 
prefixed to each Person of the Trinity ; and is also clearly es- II. 
tablished by many passages of Scripture : when, in the Acts of 
the Apostles, St. Peter says : " Ananias ! why hast thou con 
ceived this thing in thy heart?" he immediately adds : "thou 
hast not lied to men but to God ; 51 calling him, to whom he 
had before given the name Holy Ghost, immediately after, God. 

The Apostle, also, writing to the Corinthians, interprets what III. 
he says of God, as said of the Holy Ghost: "There are," 
says he, " diversities of operations, but the same God, who 
worketh all in all ;" " but," continues he, " all these things one 
and the same spirit worketh, " dividing to every one according 
as he will." 3 In the Acts of the Apostles, also, what the pro- IV 
phets attribute to one God, St. Paul ascribes to the Holy Ghost ; 
thus Tsaias had said : " I heard the voice of the Lord, saying : 
Whom shall I send ? and who shall go for us ? and I said : 
Lo ! here am I, send me. And he said : Go, and thou shalt 
say to this people : Blind the heart of this people, and make 
their ears heavy, and shut their eyes : lest they see with their 
eyes, and hear with their ears :" 3 Having cited these words, 
the Apostle adds : " Well did the Holy Ghost speak to our 
fathers, by Isaias the prophet." 4 

Again, the Sacred Scriptures, by annexing the Person of the V. 
Holy Ghost to those of the Father and the Son ; as when bap 
tism is commanded to be administered, " in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," leaves no room 
whatever to doubt the truth of this mystery : for if the Father is 
God, and the Son God, why not confess that the Holy Ghost, 
who is united with them in the same degree of honour, is also 
God ? Besides, baptism administered in the name of any crea- vi 
ture, can be of no effect: "Were you baptised in the name 
of Paul 1" s says the Apostle, to show that such baptism could 
have availed them nothing to salvation. Having, therefore, been 
baptised in the name of the Holy Ghost, we must acknowledge 
the Holy Ghost to be God. 

But this same order of the three Persons, which proves the vil. 
divinity of the Holy Ghost, is observable in the epistle of St. 
John : " There are three who give testimony in heaven ; the 
Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost ; and these three are 
one ;" 8 and, also, in that noble eulogy, or form of praise to the 
Trinity : " Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the 
Holy Ghost," which closes the psalms and divine praises. 

Acts v. 3, 4. 2 1 Cor. xii. 6, 11. 3 Isains vi. 810. Acts sxvhi. 25. 
5 1 Cor. i. U. 6 Uoha v. 7. 

68 The, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

VTII. Finally, not to omit an argument which goes, most forcibl ; v> 

establish this truth, the authority of Holy Scripture proves, that 
whatever faith attributes to God, belongs equally to the Holy 
Ghost : to him is ascribed, in Scripture, the honour of temples : 
" Know you not," says the Apostle, " that your members are 
the temple of "the Holy Ghost;" 1 and also sanctification. 2 vi- 
vification, 3 to search the depths of God, 4 to speak by the pro 
phets, 5 and to be present in all places ; 8 all of which are attri 
buted to God alone. 

The Holy The pastor will, also, accurately explain to the faithful, that 
Ghostadis- the Holy Ghost is God, so as to be the third Person in the di- 
from?h^ n vine nature, distinct from the Father and the Son, and produced 
Father and by their will. To say nothing of other testimonies of Scripture, 
the Son. t he f orm O f baptism, taught by the Redeemer, 7 furnishes an ir 
refragable proof that the Holy Ghost is the third Person, self- 
existent in the divine nature, and distinct from the other Persons : 
a doctrine taught, also, by the Apostle, when he says : " The 
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the 
communication of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." 8 
This same truth, is still more explicitly declared in the word. 
which were here added by the Fathers of the first Council of 
Constantinople, to refute the impious folly of Macedonius : 
" And in the Holy Ghost the Lord and giver of life, who pro- 
ceedeth from the Father, and the Son : who, together with the 
Father and the Son, is adored and glorified ; who spoke by the 
prophets." Thus, by confessing the Holy Ghost to be " Lord," 
they declare, how far he excels the angels, who are the per 
fection of created intelligence ; for, " they are all," says the 
Apostle, " ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall 
receive the inheritance of salvation." 9 

Why called They, also, designate the Holy Ghost: "The giver of life," 
the "giver because the soul lives more by an union with God, than the 
body is nurtured and sustained by an union with the soul. As, 
then, the Sacred Scriptures ascribe to the Holy Ghost this union 
of the soul with God, with great propriety, is he denominated 
" the giver of life." 

His proces- With re g ard to the words immediately succeeding : " who 

sion from " proceedeth from the Father and the Son," the faithful are to be 

the Father taught, that the Holy Ghost proceeds by eternal procession, 

sjl from the Father and the Son, as from one principle : a truth 

propounded to us by an ecclesiastical rule, from which the least 

departure is unwarrantable, confirmed by the authority of the 

Sacred Scriptures, and defined by the Councils of the Church. 

Christ himself, speaking of the Holy Ghost, says : " He shall 

glorify me, because he shall receive of mine ;" 10 and we, also, 

find that the Holy Ghost is, sometimes, called, in Scripture, 

" the Spirit of Christ," sometimes, " the Spirit of the Father ;" 

is, one time, said to be sent by the Father, 11 another time, by the 

1 Cor. vi. 19. 2 2Thess. ii. 13. 1 Petr. i. 2. 3 John vi. 64. 

< 2 Cor. Hi. 6; 1 Cor. ii. 10. s 2 Petr. i. 21. 6 VVis. i. 7. 7 Matt. xxvm. 1 9. 
2 Cor. xiii. 13. 9Heb. i. 14. 10 John xvi. 14. ll John xiv. 26. 

On the eighth article of the Creed. 69 

Son ; J thus signifying, in unequivocal terms, that he proceeds 
alike from the Father and the Son. " He," says St. Paul, 
who has not tne Spirit of Christ belongs not to him." 3 In 
his epistle to the Galatians, he also calls the Holy Ghost the 
Spirit of Christ: " God," says he, " hath sent the Spirit of 
his Son into^your hearts, crying: Abba, Father." 3 In the Gos 
pel of St. Matthew, he is called the Spirit of the Father : " It 
is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speak- 
eth in you;" 4 and our Lord himself said, at his last supper: 
" When the Paraclate cometh, whom I will send you, the Spirit 
of Truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testi 
mony of me." 5 On another occasion, he declares, that he is 
to be sent by the Father : " whom," says he, " the Father will 
send in my name." 6 Understanding by these words, the pro 
cession of the Holy Ghost, we come to the inevitable conclusion, 
that he proceeds from the Father and the Son. This exposition 
embraces the doctrine to be taught with regard to the Person of 
the Holy Ghost. 

It is, also, the duty of the pastor to teach that there are cer- The gifts 

tain admirable effects, certain exalted gifts of the Holy Ghost, oftheHoly 

. -. . . , ,, i / Ghost, 

which are said to originate and emanate trom him, as Irom a 

perennial fountain of goodness. Although the extrinsic works 
of the most Holy Trinity are common to the three Persons, yet 
many of them are attributed, specially to the Holy Ghost ; 
giving us to understand that they arise from the boundless love 
of God towards us : for as the Holy Ghost proceeds from the 
divine will, inflamed, as it were, with love, we can comprehend 
that these effects which are referred, particularly, to the Holy 
Ghost, are the result of the boundless love of God towards us. 

Hence it is, that the Holy Ghost is called A GIFT ; for by a 
gift we understand that which is kindly and gratuitously be 
stowed, without reference to anticipated remuneration. What 
ever gifts and graces, therefore, have been bestowed on us, by 
Almighty God, and " what have we," says the Apostle, " that 
we have not received from God ?" 7 we should piously and 
gratefully acknowledge, as bestowed by the grace and gift of 
the Holy Ghost. 

These gifts are numerous : not to mention the creation of the 
world, the propagation and government of all created beings, as 
noticed in the first Article ; we proved, a little before, that the 
giving of life is, particularly, attributed to the Holy Ghost, and 
the propriety of this attribution is further confirmed by the tes 
timony of the prophet Ezekiel : " I will give you spirit and 
you shall live." 8 The prophet Isaias, however, enumerates the 
effects peculiarly attributed to the Holy Ghost : " The spirit of 
wisdom, and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, 
the spirit of knowledge and piety, and the spirit of the fear of 
the Lord :" 9 effects which are called the gifts of the Holy 

i John xv. 26. 2 Rom. viii. 9. * Gal. iv. 6. * Matth. x. 20. 

5 John xv. 26. e John xiv. 26. 7 1 Cor. iv. 7. 8 Ezek. xxxvii. 6. 

9 Isaias xi. 3. 

70 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Ghost, and, sometimes, the Holy Ghost. Wisely, therefore; 
does St. Augustine admonish us, whenever we meet the wora 
Holy Ghost, in Scripture, to distinguish whether it means the 
third Person of the Trinity, or his gifts and operations :* they 
are as distinct as the Creator is from the creature. The dili 
gence of the pastor, in expounding these truths, should be the 
greater, as it is from these gifts of the Holy Ghost that we de 
rive rules of Christian life, and are enabled to know if the Hoi) 
Ghost dwells within us. 

But the grace of justification, " which signs us with the hoi} 
spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance," 3 tran 
scends his highest gifts : it unites us to God, in the closest 
bonds of love lights up within us the sacred flame of piety 
Ghost. " forms us to newness of life renders us partakers of the divine 
nature and enables us "to be called and really to be the sons 
of " God." 3 4 

Grace, the 


fully ex 


Why this I T w ill not be difficult to estimate the care with which the 
tobe care- P astor should explain this ninth Article to the faithful, 5 if we 
attend to the following important considerations : that, as S. 
Augustine observes, 6 the prophets spoke more plainly and ex 
plicitly of the Church than of Christ, foreseeing that on this a 
much greater number may err and be deceived, than on the 
mystery of the incarnation : after ages were to behold wicked 
men, who, imitative as the ape, that would fain pass for one of 
the human species, arrogate to themselves exclusively the name 
of Catholic, and, with effrontery as unblushing as it is impious, 
assert that with them alone is to be found the Catholic Church 
Secondly, that he, whose mind is deeply impressed with this 
truth, will experience little difficulty in avoiding the awful 
Who is to danger of heresy ; for a person is not to be called a heretic so 
be called a soon as h e errs i n matters of faith : then only is he to be so 
called, when, in defiance of the authority of the Church, he 
maintains impious opinions, with unyielding pertinacity. As, 
therefore, so long as he holds what this Article proposes to be 
believed, no man can be infected with the contagion of heresy ; 
the pastor should use every diligence, that the faithful, knowing 
this mystery, and prepared against the wiles of Satan, persevere 
in the true faith. 

But this Article hinges upon the preceding one, for, having 


1 D. August lib. 15. de Trinit. cap. xviii. 19. 
3 1 John iii. 1. 2 Peter i. 4 
1 John iii. 1. 2 Peter i. 4. 

2 Eph. i. 13. 

Council Trid. Sess. 6. 
6 S. Aug. in Ps. xxx. 15 

On the ninth article of the Creed. 71 

already established that the Holy Ghost is the source and giver 
of all holiness, Ave here confess our belief in the Church which 
he has endowed with sanctity. 

As the word Ecclesia (church) which is borrowed from the Meaning 
Greek, has been applied, since the preaching of the Gospel, to of the word 
sacred things, it becomes necessary to explain its meaning. The (church.) 
word Ecclesia (church) means a calling forth ; but writers 
afterwards used it to signify a council or assembly. Nor does 
it matter whether the word is used in reference to the professors 
of a true or a false religion : in the Acts of the Apostles it is 
said of the people of Ephesus, that, when the town-clerk had 
appeased a tumultuous assemblage, he said : " and if you in 
quire after any other matter, it may be decided in a lawful as 
sembly" (Ecclesia) r 1 The Ephesians, who were worshippers 
of Diana, are thus called by the Apostle, " a lawful assembly" 
(Ecclesia) : Nor are the Gentiles only, who know not God, 
called a church or assembly, (Ecclesia) : the councils of wicked 
and impious men are also, sometimes, called by the same name : 
" I have hated the assembly (Ecclesiam) of the malignant," says 
the Psalmist, "and with the wicked I will not sit." a However,- 
in ordinary Scripture-phrase, the word was afterwards used to 
designate the Christian commonwealth only, and the assemblies 
of the faithful ; that is of those Avho were called by faith to the 
light of truth, and the knowledge of God; who, forsaking the 
darkness of ignorance and error, worship the living and true God 
in piety and holiness, and serve him from their whole hearts. 
In a word, " the Church," says S. Augustine, " consists of the 
faithful dispersed throughout the world." 3 

Under the word " Church" are comprehended no unimpor- Mysteries 
tant mysteries, for, in this "calling forth," which the word W ord h (-om 
Ecclesia (church) signifies, we at once recognize the benignity prises. 
and splendour of divine grace, and understand that the Church 
is very unlike all other commonwealths : they rest on human 
reason and human prudence ; this, on the wisdom and councils 
of God ; for he called us by the interior inspiration of the Holy 
Ghost, who, through the ministry and labour of his pastors, and 
preachers, penetrates into the hearts of men. 

Moreover, from this calling we shall better understand the end In what it 
which the Christian should propose to himself, that is, the ^TnT 
knowledge and possession of things eternal, when we reflect gogue. 
why the faithful, living under the law, were of old, called a 
synagogue, that is, a congregation : as S. Augustine observes, 
" they were so called, because, like cattle which usually go to 
gether, they looked only to terrestrial and transitory things ;"* 
and hence the Christian people are called a church, not a syna 
gogue, because, despising terrestrial and transitory things, they 
aspired only to things heavenly and eternal. 

Many other names, replete with mysteries, are employed, by Other 
an easy deflection from their original meaning, to designate the 

1 Acts xix. 39. 2 Ps. xxv. 5. 3 S. \ug. in Ps. cxux. 1 Aug. in Ps. Ixxvii. Ixxxi. 

72 The, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Christian commonwealth : by the Apostle it is called " the 
House and Edifice of God," when writing to Timothy, he says, 
" If I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to 
behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the 

I. living God, the pillar and ground of truth." 1 It is called a house 
because it consists, as it were, of one family, governed by one 

II. Father, and enjoying a community of all spiritual goods. It is 
also called the flock of Christ, of which he is " the door and the 

III- shepherd." 3 It is called the spouse of Christ: "I have es 
poused you to one husband," says the Apostle to the Corin 
thians, "that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ:" 3 
and writing to the Ephesians, he says : " Husbands, love your 
wives, as Christ, also, loved the Church, and delivered himself 
up for it :" 4 and, also, speaking of marriage, he says : " This 
is a great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and in the Church." 5 

IV. Finally, the Church is called the body of Christ, as may be 
seen in the epistles of St. Paul to the Ephesians, 8 and Colos- 
sians : 7 appellations each of which has considerable influence 
in exciting the faithful to prove themselves worthy the bound 
less clemency and goodness of God, who chose them to be his 
The Having explained these things, it will be necessary to enu- 

Church merate the several component parts of the Church, and point 

triumphant i_ j- j i i^-ici i 

and mill- out their difference, in order that the faithful may the better 

tant ; comprehend the nature, properties, gifts, and graces of the 
Church, the object of God s special predilection ; and uncea 
singly offer to the divine majesty the homage of their grateful 
praise. The Church consists principally of two parts, the one 
called the Church triumphant, the other, the Church militant. 8 
Triumph- The Church triumphant is that most glorious and happy assem 
blage of blessed spirits, and of those souls who have triumphed 
over the world, the flesh, and the devil, and, now exempt from 
the troubles of this life, are blessed with the fruition of ever- 
Militant, lasting bliss. The Church militant is the society of all the faith 
ful still dwelling on earth, and is called militant, because it 
wages eternal war with those implacable enemies, the world, 
the flesh and the devil. We are not, however, hence to infer 
that there are two Churches : they are two constituent parts 
of one Church ; one part gone before, and now in the possession 
of its heavenly country ; the other, following every day, until, 
at length, united to its invisible head, it shall repose in the frui 
tion of endless felicity. 9 

Composed The Church militant is composed of two classes of persons, 
of the good t h e g 00 j and the bad, both professing the same faith and par- 
and the , . 6 ,, , i-/v ,1 

bad. taking of the same sacraments ; yet differing in their manner 

of life and morality. The good are those who are linked to 
gether not only by the profession of the same faith, and the par- 

> 1 Tim. iii. 15. 2 Ezek. xxxiv. 5. John x. 7. 2 Cor. xi. 2. * Eph. v. 25 
5 Eph. v. 32. 6 Eph. i. 23. ^ Colos. i. 24. 8 Aug. Ench. c. ] 

9 Aug. lib. ii. de Civ. Dei, c. 9. 

On the ninth article of the Creed. 73 

ticipation of the same sacraments ; but also by the spirit of 
grace, and the bond of charity : of whom St. Paul says : " The 
Lord knoweth who are his." 1 Who they are that compose this 
class we, also, may remotely conjecture ; pronounce with cer 
tainty we cannot. 3 Of this part of his Church, therefore, our 
Lord does not speak, when he refers us to the Church, and com 
mands us to hear and to obey her : 3 unknown as is that portion 
of the Church, how ascertain with certainty, whose decision to 
recur to, whose authority to obey ? The Church, therefore, as 
the Sacred Scriptures, and the writings of the holy men who 
are gone before us, testify, includes within her fold the good and 
the bad : and this interpretation is sustained by the Apostle, 
when he says : " There is one body and one spirit."* Thus Figures 
understood, the Church is known, and is compared to a city built and . com * 
on a mountain, and seen from every side. 5 As all must yield ofthe" 8 
obedience to her authority, it is necessary that she may be Church, 
known by all. That the Church is composed of the good and 
the bad we learn from many parables contained in the Gospel : 
thus, the kingdom of heaven, that is, the Church militant, is 
compared to a net cast into the sea, 8 to a field in which tares 
were sown with the good grain, 7 to a threshing floor on which 
the grain is mixed up with the chaff, 8 and, also, to ten virgins, 
five of whom were wise, and five foolish ; B and, long be 
fore, we trace a figure and striking resemblance of the Church 
in the ark of Noah, which contained not only clean, but also 
unclean animals. 10 But, although the Catholic faith uniformly 
and truly teaches that the good and the bad belong to the 
Church, yet the same faith declares that the condition of both 
is very different : the wicked are contained in the Church, as 
the chaff is mingled with the grain on the threshing floor, or as 
dead members, sometimes, remain attached to a living body. 

Hence, there are but three classes of persons excluded from Those wno 
her pale, infidels, heretics and schismatics, and excommunicated are exclud- 
persons ; infidels, because they never belonged to, and never p a i e n 
knew the Church, and were never made partakers of any of her 
sacraments ; heretics and schismatics, because they have sepa 
rated from the Church, and belong to her, only as deserters be 
long to the army from which they have deserted. It is not, 
however, to be denied, that they are still subject to the jurisdic 
tion of the Church, inasmuch as they are liable to have judg 
ment passed on their opinions, to be visited with spiritual punish 
ments, and denounced with anathema. Finally, excommunicated 
persons, because excluded by her sentence from the number of 
her children, belong not to her communion until restored by re 
pentance. But with regard to the rest; however wicked and 
flagitious, it is certain that they still belong to the Church ; 
and of this the faithful are frequently to be reminded, in order 
to be convinced that, were even the lives of her ministers de- 

1 2 Tim. ii. 19. 2 Cone. Trid. Sess. 6. c. 12. 3 Matt, xviii. 17. < Eph. iy. 4. 
6 Matt. v. 15. 6 Matt., xiii. 47. 7 Matt. xiii. 24. 8 Luke iii. 17. 

9 Matt. xxv. 1,2. 10 Gen. vii. 2. 1 Pet. iii. 20. 
7 K 

74 Tlie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

based by crime, they are still within her pale, and, therefore 
lose no part of the power, with which her ministry invests 

Other ap- But portions of the Universal Church are, also, usually called 
plications a Church, as when the Apostle mentions the Church at Corinth, 
Church. at Galatia, 2 at Laodicea, 3 at Thessalonica. 4 The private houses 
of the faithful, he, also, calls Churches : the Church in the 
house of Priscilla and Aquila he commands to be saluted : 5 and 
in another place, he says : " Aquila and Priscilla, with their 
domestic Church, salute you much." 8 Writing to Philemon, 
he makes use of the same word, in the same sense. 7 Some 
times, also, the word Church is used to signify the prelates and 
pastors of the Church : " If he will not hear thee," says our 
Lord, " tell it to the Church." 8 Here the word Church means 
the authorities of the Church. The place in which the faithful 
assemble to hear the word of God, or for other religious pur 
poses is, also, called a Church ; 9 but, in this Article, the word 
is specially used to signify the good and the bad, the governing 
and the governed. 

Distinctive The distinctive marks of this Church are also to be made 
theclmrch known to the faithful, that thus they may be enabled to estimate 
the extent of the blessing, conferred by God on those who have 
had the happiness to be born and educated within her pale. 
The first mark of the true Church is described in the Creed of 
I. the Fathers, and consists in unity : " My dove is one, my beau- 
Unity. t jf u j one j g one> "io g vas t a multitude, scattered far and wide, 
is called one, for the reasons mentioned by St. Paul in his 
epistle to the Ephesians : " One Lord, one faith, one bap 
tism." 11 This Church has, also, but one ruler and one governor, 
the invisible one, Christ, whom the Eternal Father " hath made 
head over all the Church, which is his body ;" ia the visible 
one, him, who, as legitimate successor of Peter the prince of 
the Apostles, fills the apostolic chair. 

A visible That this visible head is necessary to establish and preserve 
headneces- unity in the Church is the unanimous accord of the Fathers; 
" an( ^ on ^is, ^ e sentiments of St. Jerome, in his work against 
Jovinian, are as clearly conceived as they are happily expressed : 
" One," says he, " is chosen, that, by the appointment of a 
head, all occasion of schism may be removed ;" 13 and to Da 
mascus, " Let envy cease, let the pride of Roman ambition be 
humbled : I speak to the successor of the fisherman, and to the 
disciple of the cross. Following no chief but Christ, I am 
united in communion with your Holiness, that is, Avith the 
chair of Peter. I know that on that rock is built the Church. 
Whoever will eat the lamb outside this house is profane : who 
ever is not in the ark of Noah shall perish in the flood." The 

2 Cor. i. 1. 2 Gal. i. 2. Colos. iv. 16. * 1 Thess. i. 1. 

s Rom. xvi. 3-5. 6 1 Cor. xvi. 19. ? Phil. i. 2. Mat. xviii. 17. 

* 1 Cor. xi. 18. 10 Cant. vi. 8. Eph. iv. 5. 12 ph. i. 22, 23. 

i 3 S. Hyeroa lib. 1. contr. Jovin. in med. et epist 57. 

On the ninth article of the Creed. 76 

same doctrine was, long before, established by S. S. Irenaeus, 1 
and Cyprian : 2 the latter, speaking of the unity of the Church, 
observes : " The Lord said to Peter, I say to thee Peter ! 
thou art Peter : and upon this rock I will build my Church : 3 
he builds his Church on one ; and although, after his resurrec 
tion, he gave equal power to all his Apostles, saying, As the 
Father hath sent me, I also send you. Receive ye the Holy 
Ghost ; 4 yet, to display unity, he disposed, by his own autho 
rity, the origin of this unity, which had its beginning with one, 
&c." Again, Optatus of Milevis says : " It cannot be ascribed 
to ignorance on your part, knowing, as you do, that the episco 
pal chair, in which, as head of all the Apostles, Peter sat, was, 
first, fixed by him in the city of Rome , that in him alone may 
be preserved the unity of the Church ; and that the other Apos 
tles may not claim each a chair for himself; so that, now, he, 
who erects another, in opposition to this single chair, is a schis 
matic and a prevaricator." 5 In the next place, S. Basil has 
these words : " Peter is made the foundation, because he says : 
Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God: and hears in re 
ply that he is a rock ; but although a rock, he is not such a rock 
as Christ, for in himself Christ is, truly, an immoveable rock, 
but Peter, only by virtue of that rock ; for God bestows his 
dignities on others : He is a priest, and he makes priests ; a 
rock, and he makes a rock : what belongs to himself, he be 
stows on his servants." 6 Lastly, S. Ambrose says : " Should 
any one object, that the Church is content with one head and 
one spouse, Jesus Christ, and requires no other ; the answer is 
obvious ; for, as we deem Christ not only the author of all the 
Sacraments, but, also, their invisible minister ; (he it is who 
baptises, he it is who absolves, although men are appointed by 
him the external ministers of the sacraments) so has he placed 
over his Church, which he governs by his invisible spirit, a 
man to be his vicar, and the minister of his power : a visible 
Church requires a visible head, and, therefore, does the Saviour 
appoint Peter head and pastor of all the faithful, when, in the 
most ample terms, he commits to his care the feeding of all his 
sheep ; 7 desiring that he, who was to succeed him, should be 
invested with the very same power of ruling and governing the 
entire Church." 

The Apostle, moreover, writing to the Corinthians, tells Unity of 

them, that there is but one and the same Spirit who imparts * he i aith u ful 
.1 / i /. i . how to be 

grace to the iaithlul, as the soul communicates life to the mem- preserved. 

bers of the body. 8 Exhorting the Ephesians to preserve this 
unity, he says, " Be careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in 1- 
the bond of peace." 9 As the human body consists of many 
members, animated by one soul, which gives sight to the eyes, 

1 Iren. lib. 3. contr. hseres. cap. 3. 2 B. Cyprian, de simp, prseel. in principle 
fere. 3 Matt xvi. 18. 1 John xx. 21, 22. 

5 Optat Initio lib. 2. ad Parmen. 6 Basil, horn. 29. quse est de psenit 

7 John xxi. 15. 1 Cor. xii 11, 12. 9 Eph. iv. 3. 

76 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

hearing to the ears, and to the other senses, the power of dis 
charging their respective functions ; so, the mystical body of 
Christ, which is the Church, is composed of many faithful. The 
hope, to which we are called, is, also, one, as the Apostle tells 
us in the same place :* we all hope for the same consummation, 
eternal life. Finally, the faith, which all are bound to believe 
and to profess, is one : " Let there be no schisms amongst you ;" 3 
and baptism, which is the seal of our solemn initiation into the 
Christian faith, is, also, one. 3 

II. Another distinctive mark of the Church is holiness, as we 

ess learn from these words of the prince of the apostles : " You 
are a chosen generation, a holy nation."* The Church is called 
holy, because she is consecrated and dedicated to God ; 5 as other 
things, such as vessels, vestments, altars, when appropriated and 
dedicated to the worship of God, although material, are called 
holy ; and, in the same sense, the first-born, who were dedi 
cated to the Most High God, were, also, called holy. 6 

It should not be deemed matter of surprise, that the Church, 
although numbering amongst her children many sinners, is called 
holy ; for as those who profess any art, although they should 
depart from its rules, are called artists ; so the faithful, although 
offending in many things, and violating the engagements, to the 
observance of which they had solemnly pledged themselves, 
are called holy, because they are made the people of God, and 
are consecrated to Christ, by baptism and faith. Hence, S. Paul 
calls the Corinthians sanctified and holy, although it is certain 
that amonst them there were some, whom he severely rebuked 
as carnal, and, also, charged with grosser crimes. 7 She is, also, 
to be called holy, because, as the body, she is united to her head, 
Christ Jesus, 8 the fountain of all holiness, from whom flow the 
graces of the Holy Spirit, and the riches of the divine bounty 
S. Augustine interpreting these words of the prophet : " Pre 
serve my soul because I am holy," 9 thus admirably expresses 
himself: " Let the body of Christ boldly say, let also, that one 
man, exclaiming from the ends of the earth, boldly say, with 
Christ his head, and under Christ his head ; I am holy : for he 
received the grace of holiness, the grace of baptism and of re 
mission of sins:" and a little after: "If all Christians and all 
the faithful, having been baptized in Christ, have put him on, 
according to these words of the Apostle : as many of you as 
have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ : 10 if they are 
made members of his body, and yet say they are not holy, they 
do an injury to their head, whose members are holy." 11 1S> 
Moreover, the Church alone has the legitimate worship of sa 
crifice, and the salutary use of the sacraments, by which, as thr 
efficacious instruments of divine grace, God establishes us ii 
true holiness ; so that to possess true holiness we must belong 

i Eph. iv. 4. 2 1 Cor. i. 10. s Eph. iv. 5. 1 1 Pet. ii. 9. 

5 Levit xxvii. 28. 30. Exod. xiii. 12. 7 1 Cor. i. 2. 1 Cor. iii. 3. 

8 Eph. iv. 15, 16. 9 Ps. Ixxxv 2. I0 Gal. iii. 27. 

11 Eph. v. 26, 27. 30. l2 St. Aug. in Psalm Ixxxv. 2. 

On the ninth, article of the Creed 77 

to this Church. The Church, therefore, it is clear, is holy, 1 
and holy, because she is the body of Christ, by whom she is 
sanctified, and in whose blood she is washed. 3 3 

The third mark of the Church is, that she is Catholic, that is, m. 
universal ; and justly is she called Catholic, because, as S. Au- Catholici- 
gustine says : " She is diffused by the splendour of one faith ty 
from the rising to the setting sun." 4 Unlike republics of human 
institution, or the conventicles of heretics, she is not circum 
scribed within the limits of any one kingdom, nor confined to 
the members of any one society of men ; but embraces, within 
the amplitude of her love, all mankind, whether barbarians or 
Scythians, slaves or freemen, male or female. Therefore it is 
written, "Thou hast redeemed us to God in thy blood, out of 
every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made 
us to our God, a kingdom." 5 Speaking of the Church, David 
says : " Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy 
inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy posses 
sion :" 8 and also, "I will be mindful of Rahab and of Baby 
lon knowing me :" 7 and " This man and that man is born in 
her:" 8 To this Church, "built on the foundation of the Apos 
tles and Prophets," 9 belong all the faithful who have existed 
from Adam to the present day, or who shall exist, in the pro 
fession of the true faith, to the end of time ; all of whom are 
founded and raised upon the one corner stone, Christ, who made 
both one, and announced peace to them that are near, and to 
them that are afar. She is, also, called universal, because all 
who desire eternal salvation must cling to and embrace her, like 
those who entered the ark, to escape perishing in the flood. 10 
This, therefore, is to be taught as a most just criterion, to dis 
tinguish the true from a false Church. 

The true Church is, also, to be known from her origin, which IV. 
she derives under the law of grace, from the Apostles ; for her A 
doctrines are neither novel nor of recent origin, but were deli- y 
vered, of old, by the Apostles, and disseminated throughout the 
world. Hence, no one can, for a moment, doubt that the impi 
ous opinions which heresy invents, opposed, as they are, to the 
doctrines taught by the Church from the days of the Apostles 
to the present time, are very different from the faith of the true 
Church. That all, therefore, may know the true Catholic 
Church, the Fathers, guided by the Spirit of God, added to the 
Creed the word "APOSTOLIC;"" for the Holy Ghost, who pre 
sides over the Church, governs her by no other than Apostolic 
men ; and this Spirit, first imparted to the Apostles, has, by the 
infinite goodness of God, always continued in the Church. But 

Eph. i. 14. 2 Eph. i. 7. 13 ; v. 26. 

3 De sanctitate Ecclesiee vide Justin. Mart, in utraque Apol. Tert. in Apol. Aug. 
contr. Fulg. c. 17. Gregor. Moral. L. 37. c. 7. 

4 S. Aug. serm. 131 & 181. de temp. 5 Apoc. v. 9, 10. 6 Ps- ii. 8. 
7 Ps. Ixxxvi 4. 8 Ps. Ixxxvi. 5 Eph. ii. 20. > Gen. vii. 7. 

11 De vene. Ecclesia? notis vide Aug. contra epist fundament!, cap. 4. Tertul. lib 
to de praescript. 



Figures of 



Church to 
be believ 
ed, and 
how ? 

by whom 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

as this one Church, because governed by the Holy Ghost, can 
not err in faith or morals, it necessarily follows, that all other 
societies arrogating to themselves the name of Church, because 
guided by the spirit of darkness, are sunk in the most perni 
cious errors both doctrinal and moral. 

But as the figures of the Old Testament have considerable 
influence in exciting the minds of the faithful, and recalling to 
their recollection these most salutary truths, and are, principally 
on this account, mentioned by the Apostle, the pastor will not 
pass by so copious a source of instruction. Amongst these 
figures the ark of Noah holds a conspicuous place. It was 
constructed by the command of God, 1 in order, no doubt, to 
signify the Church, which God has so constituted, as that who 
ever enters her, through baptism, may be safe from all danger 
of eternal death, while such as are not within her, like those 
who were not in the ark, are overwhelmed by their own crimes. 

Another figure presents itself in the great city of Jerusalem, 2 
which, in Scripture, often means the Church. In Jerusalem 
only was it lawful to offer sacrifice to God, and in the Church 
of God only are to be found the true worship and true sacrifice 
which can, at all, be acceptable to God. Finally, with regard 
to the Church, the pastor will teach how to believe the Church 
can constitute an article of faith. Reason, it is true, and the 
senses are competent to ascertain the existence of the Church, 
that is, of a society of men devoted and consecrated to Jesus 
Christ ; nor does faith seem necessary in order to understand a 
truth which is acknowledged by Jews and Turks : but it is from 
the light of faith only, not from the deductions of reason, that 
the mind can comprehend the mysteries, which, as has been 
already glanced at, and as shall be, hereafter, more fully deve 
loped, when we come to treat of the Sacrament of Orders, are 
contained in the Church of God. As, therefore, this Article, 
as well as the others, is placed above the reach, and defies the 
strength, of the human understanding, most justly do we con 
fess, that human reason cannot arrive at a knowledge of the 
origin, privileges and dignity of the Church ; these we can con 
template only with the eyes of faith. 

This Church was founded not by man, but by the immortal 
God himself, who built her upon a most solid rock : " The 
Highest Himself," says the Prophet, "hath founded her." 3 
Hence, she is called " The inheritance of God,"* " The peo 
ple of God," 5 and the power, which she possesses, is not from 
man but from God. As this power, therefore, cannot be of hu 
man origin, divine faith can alone enable us to understand that 
the keys of the kingdom of Heaven are deposited with the 
Church, 6 that to her has been confided the power of remitting 
sins ; 7 of denouncing excommunication ; 8 and of consecrating 

Gen. vi, 14. Gal. iv. 26. Heb. xii. 22. Deut. xii. 1114. 18. 21. 

IV. Ixxxvi. 5. " Ps. ii. 8. 5 Osee. ii. 1. 6 Matt. xvi. 19- 

~ John xx. 23. b Malt, xviii. 17. 

On the ninth article of the. Creed. 79 

the real body of Christ ;* and that her children have not here a 
permanent dwelling, but look for one above. 3 

We are, therefore, bound to believe that there is one Holy We believe 

Catholic Church ; but, with regard to the three Persons of the lh( ;Clmroh, 
TT i rr> i TI i not in the 

Holy 1 nnity, the r ather, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we not Church 

only believe them, but, also, believe IN them ; and hence, when 
speaking of each dogma, we make use of a different form of 
expression, professing to believe the holy, not IN the Holy 
Catholic Church ; 3 by this difference of expression, distin 
guishing God, the author of all things, from his works, and ac 
knowledging ourselves debtors to the divine goodness for all these 
exalted benefits bestowed on the Church. 


THE Evangelist St. John, writing to the faithful on the di- This Arti- 
vine mysteries, tells them, that he undertook to instruct them on cle - 1 ? 6 
the subject ; " that you," says he, " may have fellowship with us, explained. 
and our fellowship be with the Father and with his Son Jesus 
Christ." 4 This " fellowship" consists in the Communion of 
Saints, the subject of the present Article. Would, that, in its 
exposition, pastors imitated the zeal of St. Paul and of the other 
Apostles ! 5 for not only does it serve as an interpretation of the 
preceding Article, and is a point of doctrine productive of abund 
ant fruit ; but it also teaches the use to be made of the myste 
ries contained in the Creed ; because the great end, to which all 
our researches and knowledge are to be directed, is our admission 
into this most august and blessed society of the saints, and our 
steady perseverance therein, " giving thanks, with joy, to God 
the Father who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot 
of the saints in light." 

The faithful, therefore, in the first place, are to be informed In what 

that this Article is, as it were, a sort of explanation of the pre- " the Com e 
j. i i 11- , . . munion of 

ceding one, which regards the unity, sanctity, and catholicity Saints" 

of the Church : for the unity of the Spirit, by which she is consists, 
governed, establishes among all her members a community of 
spiritual blessings, whereas the fruit of all the Sacraments is 
common to all the faithful, and these Sacraments, particularly 
baptism, the door, as it were, by which we are admitted into the 
Church, 7 are so many connecting links which bind and unite 
them to Jesus Christ. That this Communion of Saints implies 
a communion of Sacraments, the Fathers declare in these words 
of the Creed : " I confess one baptism." 8 After baptism, the 
Eucharist holds the first place in reference to this communion ; 
and after the Eucharist, the other Sacraments; for, although 

i Heb. xiii. 10. J Hen. xiii. 14. 3 Aug. serm. 131. de. temp. < John i. 3. 
Aug. in Joan. Tract. 32. 6 Col. i. 12. Aug. 1. 19, contr. Faustum. c. 11. 
a Damasc. lib. 4. de fide orthodox, cap. 12. 1 Cor. 13. 


60 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

common to all the Sacraments, because all unite us to God, and 
render us partakers of him whose grace they communicate to us, 
this communion belongs, in a peculiar manner, to the Eucharist, 
by which it is directly accomplished. 1 

But there is, also, another communion in the Church, which 
demands attention : every pious and holy action, done by one, 
belongs to and becomes profitable to all, through charity, " which 
seeks not her own." 3 In this we are fortified by the concur 
rent testimony of St. Ambrose, who explaining these words 
of the Psalmist ; " I am a partaker with all them that fear 
thee," observes : " As we say that a member is partaker of the 
entire body, so are we partakers with all that fear God." 
Therefore, has Christ taught us to say, " or<r," not " my" 1 
bread ; 4 and the other petitions of that admirable prayer are 
equally general, not confined to ourselves alone, but directed, 
A acriptu- a l so? to the general interest, and salvation of all. This com- 
tion of this" niunication of goods is often, very appositely illustrated in Scrip 
ture by a comparison borrowed from the members of the hu 
man body : in the human body there are many members, but 
though many, they, yet, constitute but one body, in which each 
performs its own, not all, the same functions. All do not enjoy 
equal dignity, or discharge functions alike useful or honourable ; 
nor does one propose to itself its own exclusive advantage, but that 
of the entire body. 5 Besides, they are so well organised and 
knit together, that if one suffers, the rest naturally sympathise 
with it, and if, on the contrary, one enjoys health, the feeling 
of pleasure is common to all. The same may be observed of 
the Church ; although composed of various members ; of dif 
ferent nations, of Jews, Gentiles, freemen and slaves, of rich 
and poor ; yet all, initiated by faith, constitute one body with 
Christ, who is their head. To each member of the Church, is, 
also, assigned its own peculiar office ; and as some are appointed 
apostles, some teachers, but all for the common good ; so to some 
it belongs to govern and teach, to others to be subject and to 

But, the advantages of so many and such exalted blessings, 
bestowed by Almighty God, are pre-eminently enjoyed by those 
who lead a Christian life in charity, and are just and beloved of 
God ; whilst the dead members, that is, those who are bound in 
thraldom of sin, and estranged from the grace of God, although 
not deprived of these advantages, so as to cease to be members 
of this body, are yet, as dead members, deprived of the vivifying 
principle which is communicated to the just and pious Chris 
tian. However, as they are in the Church, they are assisted in 
recovering lost grace and life by those who are animated by the 
Spirit of God, and are in the enjoyment of those fruits which are 
no doubt, denied to such as are, entirely, cut off from the com 
munion of the Church. 6 

This com 
how far 
to the 

I 1 Cor. x. 16. 2 1 Cor. xiii. 5. 3 S. Ambr. in Pa. cxviii. serm. 8. v. 63. 

< Matt. vi. 11. * 1 Cor. xii. 14. 6 Aug. in Ps. 70. serm. 2. 

On the tenth article of the Creed. 81 

But the gifts, which justify and endear us to God, are lot " Graces 
alone common : " graces gratuitously granted," such as know- f^^ed" 
ledge, prophecy, the gifts of tongues and of miracles, and others common to 
of the same sort, 1 are common, also, and are granted even to * em vvltl 
the wicked ; not, however, for their own, but for the general l e g00 
good ; for the building up of the Church of God. Thus, the 
gift of healing is given, not for the sake of him who heals, but 
for the sake of him who is healed. In fine, every true Chris 
tian possesses nothing which he should not consider common 
to all others with himself, and should, therefore, be prepared 
promptly to relieve an indigent fellow-creature ; for he that is 
blessed with worldly goods, and sees his brother in want, and 
will not assist him, is at once convicted of not having the love 
of God within him. 2 Those, therefore, who belong to this holy 
communion, it is manifest, enjoy a sort of happiness here below, 
and may truly say with the Psalmist : " How lovely are thy 
tabernacles, O Lord of hosts ! my soul longeth and fainteth for 
the courts of the Lord. Blessed are they who dwell in thy 
house, O Lord !" 3 



THE enumeration of this amongst the other Articles of the The belief 
Creed, is alone sufficient to satisfy us, that it conveys a truth, ^le neces 
which is not only in itself a divine mystery, but also a mystery S ary to sal- 
very necessary to salvation. We have already said that, with- vation. 
out a firm belief of all the Articles of the Creed, Christian piety 
is wholly unattainable. However, should a truth, which ought 
to bring intrinsic evidence to every mind, seem to require any 
other authority in its support ; enough that the Redeemer, a 
short time previous to his ascension into heaven, " when open 
ing the understanding of his disciples, that they might under 
stand the Scriptures," bore testimony to this Article of the 
Creed, in these words : " It behoved Christ to suffer, and to 
rise again from the dead the third day, and that penance and re 
mission of sins, should be preached, in his name, unto all nations, 
beginning at Jerusalem."* Let the pastor but weigh well these Obliga ion 
words, and he will readily perceive, that the Lord has laid him ^r tTex^ 
under a most sacred obligation, not only of making known to plain it to 
the faithful, whatever regards religion in general, but also of ex- the people, 
plaining, with particular care, this article of the Creed. On this 
point of doctrine, then, it is the bounden duty of the pastor to 
teach that, not only is " forgiveness of sins" to be found in the 
Catholic Church, as Isaias had foretold in these words : " The 

i 1 Cor. xiii. 2. 2 ] J o hn lii. 17. 3 Ps. hxxiii. 2. 5. * Luke i.xiv. 46, 47. 


82 Tlit Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

people that dwell therein shall have their iniquity taken away 
from them;" 1 but, also, that in her resides the power of for 
giving sins ; 3 which power, if exercised duly, and according to 
the laws prescribed by our Lord, is, we are bound to believe, 
such as, truly to pardon and remit sins. 

Baptism But, when we first make a profession of faith at the baptismal 

remits all f on t ? an( i are cleansed in its purifying waters, we receive this 
the punish- pardon entire and unqualified ; so that no sin, original or actual, of 
ments due commission or omission, remains to be expiated, no punishment 
to them. ^ Q k e entuire( i f r j;h e g race o f baptism, however, does not give 
exemption from all the infirmities of nature : on the contrary, 
contending, as we each of us have to contend, against the mo 
tions of concupiscence, which ever tempts us to the commission 
of sin, there is scarcely one to be found amongst us, who op 
poses so vigorous a resistance to its assaults, or who guards his 
salvation so vigilantly, as to escape all the snares of Satan. 3 
The power It being necessary, therefore, that a power of forgiving sins, 
of the keys distinct from that of baptism, should exist in the Church, to hei 
theChurch. were entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven, by which 
each one, if penitent, may obtain the remission of his sins, even 
though he were a sinner to the last day of his life. This truth 
is vouched by the most unquestionable authority of the Sacred 
Scriptures : in St. Matthew, the Lord says to Peter : " I will 
give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; and whatever 
thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven ; and 
whatever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed also in hea 
ven :"* and again, " whatever you shall bind on earth shall bt 
bound also in heaven ; and whatever you shall loose on earth 
shall be loosed also in heaven." 5 Again, the testimony of St 
John assures us that the Lord, breathing on the Apostles, said 
" Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive 
they are forgiven them ; and whose sins you shall retain, they 
Thispower are retained." 8 Nor is the exercise of this power restricted to 
extends to particular sins, for no crime, however heinous, can be committed, 
ms- whkh the Church has not power to forgive : as, also, there is 
no sinner, however abandoned, none, however depraved, who 
should not confidently hope for pardon, provided he sincerely 
repent of his past transgressions. 7 Neither is the exercise of 
this power restricted to particular times ; for whenever the sin 
ner turns from his evil ways, he is not to be rejected, as we 
learn from the reply of our Lord to the prince of the Apostles, 
asking how often we should pardon an offending brother, 
whether seven times : " Not only seven times," says the Re 
deemer, " but even seventy times seven." 8 

Butiscon- But if we look to its ministers, or to the manner in which it 
fined to hi- j s to b e exercised, the extent of this power will not appear so 
great ; for it is a power not given to all, but to bishops and 

Isaias xxxiii. 24. 2 Aug. hoinil. 49. cap. 3. 3 Trident, Sess. v. can. 5 

Aug. 1, 2, de pecoat. merit, c. 28. < Matt. xvi. 19. 5 Matt, xviii. 18. b John xx. 23 
7 Ambros. lib. 1. de poeniu c. 1, 2. Aug. in Ench. c. 93. <> Matt, xviii. 21, 22. 

On the tenth article of the Creed. 83 

priests only ; and sins can be forgiven only through the Sacra 
ments, when duly administered. The Church has received no 
power otherwise to remit sin. 1 

But to raise the admiration of the faithful, for this heavenly Its inesti- 

gift, bestowed on the Church by the singular mercy of God to- mi , 
wards us, and to make them approach its use with the more V< 
lively sentiments of devotion ; the pastor will endeavour to 
point out the dignity and the extent of the grace which it im 
parts. If there be any one means better calculated than another 
to accomplish this end, it is, carefully to show how great must 
be the efficacy of that which absolves from sin, and restores the 
unjust to a state of justification. This is, manifestly, an effect 
of the infinite power of God, of that same power which we be 
lieve to have been necessary to raise the dead to life, and to 
summon creation into existence. 3 But if it be true, as the au 
thority of St. Augustine assures us it is, 3 that, to recall a sinner 
from the state of sin to that of righteousness, is even a greater 
work than to create the heavens and the earth from nothing, 
though their creation can be no other than the effect of infinite 
power ; it follows, that we have still stronger reason to consider 
the remission of sins, as an effect proceeding from the exercise 
of this same infinite power. With great truth, therefore, have 
the ancient Fathers declared, that God alone can forgive sins, 
and that to his infinite goodness and power alone is so wonder 
ful a work to be referred : " I am he," says the Lord himself, 
by the mouth of his prophet, " I am he, who blotteth out your 
iniquities." 4 The remission of sins seems to bear an exact ana 
logy to the cancelling of a pecuniary debt : as, therefore, none 
but the creditor can forgive a pecuniary debt, so the debt of sin, 
which we owe to God alone, (and our daily prayer is : " for 
give us our debts," 5 ) can, it is clear, be forgiven by him alone, 
and by none else. 

But this wonderful gift, this emanation of the divine bounty, First given 
was never communicated to creatures, until God became man to Christ 
Christ our Lord, although true God, was the first who, as man, ** 
received this high prerogative from his heavenly Father : " That 
you may know," says he to the paralytic, " that the Son of Man 
hath power on earth to forgive sins, rise, take up thy bed, and 
go into thy house." 8 As, therefore, he became man, in order 
to bestow on man this forgiveness of sins, he communicated this 
power to bishops and priests in the Church, previously to his 
ascension into heaven, there to sit for ever at the right hand of 
God. Christ, however, as we have already said, remits sin by 
virtue of his own authority ; all others by virtue of his authority 
delegated to them as his ministers. 

If, therefore, whatever is the effect of infinite power claims The great 
our highest admiration, and commands our profoundest reve- e ^ 

1 Trid. Sess. 14. c. 6. Hier. epist. 1. post med. Ambr. de Cain et Abel, c. 4. 

2 Trid. Sess. 6. c. 7. & Sess. 14. 1, 2. Arc. tract. 7. 2. in Joan. 

3 Aug. lib. 1. de pecc. merit, c. 23. 1. 50. horn. 23. Ambr. de Abel, cap. 4. 

4 Isuias xliii. 25. * Matt. vi. 11. Matt. ix. G. Mark ii. 9, 



Mortal sin, 
how great 
an evil. 

The faith 
ful should 
have re 
course to 
the exer 
cise of thia 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent* 

rence ; we must readily perceive that this gift, bestowed on the 
Church by the bounteous hand of Christ our Lord, is one of 
inestimable value. The manner, too, in which God, in the full 
ness of his paternal clemency, resolved to cancel the sins of the 
world, must powerfully excite the faithful to the contemplation 
of this great blessing : it was his will that our offences should 
be expiated in the blood of his only begotten Son, that he should 
voluntarily assume the imputability of our sins, and suffer a 
most cruel death ; the just for the unjust, the innocent for the 
guilty. 1 When, therefore, we reflect, that " we were not redeem 
ed with corruptible things, as gold or silver, but with the pre 
cious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undenled ;" a 
we are naturally led to conclude that we could have received no 
gift more salutary than this power of forgiving sins, which pro 
claims the ineffable providence of God, and the excess of his 
love towards us. 

This reflection must produce, in all, the most abundant 
spiritual fruit ; for whoever offends God, even by one mortal 
sin, instantly forfeits whatever merits he may have previously 
acquired through the sufferings and death of Christ, and is en 
tirely shut out from the gate of heaven, which, when already 
closed, was thrown open to all by the Redeemer s passion. 
And, indeed, when this reflection enters into the mind, impos 
sible not to feel impressed with the most anxious solicitude, and 
contemplating the picture of human misery which it presents 
to our view. But if we turn our attention to this admirable 
power with which God has invested his Church ; and, in the 
firm belief of this Article, feel convinced that to every sinner is 
offered the means of recovering, with the assistance of divine 
grace, his former dignity ; we can no longer resist sentiments 
of exceeding joy, and gladness, and exultation, and must offer 
immortal thanks to God. If, when labouring under some severe 
malady, the medicines prepared for us by the art and industry 
of the physician, generally become grateful and agreeable to us ; 
how much more grateful and agreeable should those remedies 
prove, which the wisdom of God has established to heal our 
spiritual maladies, and restore us to the life of grace ; remedies 
which, unlike the medicines used for the recovery of bodily 
health, bring with them, not, indeed, uncertain hope of recovery, 
but certain health to such as desire to be cured. 

The faithful, therefore, having formed a just conception of 
the dignity of so excellent and exalted a blessing, should be ex 
horted to study, religiously, to turn it, also, to good account 
for he who makes no use of what is really useful and necessary 
affords a strong presumption that he despises it ; particularly as, 
in communicating to the Church the power of forgiving sins, 
the Lord did so with the view, that all should have recourse to 
this healing remedy ; for, as without baptism, no man can be 
cleansed from original sin, so, without the sacrament of penance, 

1 Pet Ui. 18. 

3 1 Pet i. 18, 19. 

On the eleventh article of the Creed. 85 

which is another means instituted by God to cleanse from sin, 
he who desires to recover the grace of baptism, forfeited by 
actual mortal guilt, cannot recover lost innocence. 

But here the faithful are to be admonished to guard against Danger of 
the danger of becoming more prepense to sin, or slow to re- 
prntance, from a presumption that they can have recourse to 
this plenary power of forgiving sins, which, as we have already 
said, is unrestricted by time ; for as such a propensity to sin, 
must, manifestly, convict them of acting injuriously and contu 
maciously to this divine power, and must, therefore render them 
unworthy of the divine mercy ; so, this slowness to repentance 
must afford great reason to apprehend, lest overtaken by death, 
they may, in vain, confess their belief in the remission of sins, 
which their tardiness and procrastination have, deservedly, for 
feited. 1 



THAT this Article supplies a convincing proof of the truth of Importance 
our faith, is evinced by the circumstance of its not only being ic i* ls Ar ~ 
proposed, in the Sacred Scriptures, to the belief of the faithful, 
but also fortified by numerous arguments. This we scarcely 
find to be the case with regard to the other Articles : a circum 
stance which justifies the inference that on it, as on its most 
solid basis, rests our hope of salvation ; for according to the 
reasoning of the Apostle, " If there be no resurrection of the 
dead, then Christ is not risen again ; and if Christ be not risen 
again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." a 
The zeal and assiduity, therefore, of the pastor in its exposition 
should not be inferior to the labour which impiety has expended 
in fruitless efforts to overturn its truth. That eminently im 
portant advantages flow to the faithful from the knowledge of 
this Article will appear from the sequel. 

And, first, that in this Article the resurrection of mankind is The resur- 
called " the resurrection of the body," is a circumstance which J^ kimf 
deserves attention. The Apostles had for object, (for it is not w h y caln-d 
without its object,) thus to convey an important truth, the im- "theresur- 
mortality of the soul. Lest, therefore, contrary to the Sacred [jjj; j^" >. 
Scriptures, which, in many places, teach the soul to be immor 
tal, 3 any one may imagine that it dies with the body, and that 
both are to be resuscitated, the Creed speaks only of " the re 
surrection of the body." The word, " caro," which is used 

1 Aug. in Joan. Tract. S3. et lib. 50. homil. 41. Ambross. lib. 2. de premt. c. 1, 2. 
& 1 1 . a 1 Cor. xv. 1 3, 14. 3 Wis. ii. 23 ; lii. 4. Malt x. 28 ; 

xxii. 31, 32. 


Proofs of 
the resur 
rection of 
the body. 

36 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

in the symbol, translated literally, means " flesh :" a word, 
which, though of frequent occurrence in Scripture to signify 
the whole man, soul and body, as in Isaias, " All flesh is grass ;"- 
and in St. John, " The Word was made flesh ;" 2 is, however 
used, here, to express the body only ; thus giving us to under 
stand, that of the two constituent parts of man, one only, that 
is the body, is corrupted, and returns to its original dust ; whilst 
the soul remains incorrupt and immortal. As then, without 
dying, a man cannot be said to return to life ; so the soul, which 
never dies, could not, with propriety, be said to rise again. 
The word body, is, also, mentioned, in order to confute the 
heresy of Hymeneus and Philetus, who during the life-time of 
the Apostle, asserted, that, whenever the Scriptures speak of the 
resurrection, they are to be understood to mean not the resur 
rection of the body, but that of the soul, by which it rises from 
the death of sin to the life of grace. 3 The words of this Ar 
ticle, therefore, clearly confute the error, and establish a real 
resurrection of the body. 

But it will be the duty of the pastor to illustrate this truth by 
examples taken from the Old and New Testaments, and froir 
all ecclesiastical history. In the Old Testament, some were 
restored to life by Elias, 4 and Elizeus ; s and in the New, be 
sides those who were raised to life by our Lord, 8 many were 
resuscitated by the Apostles, and by others. 7 Their resurrec 
tion confirms the doctrine conveyed by this Article, for believing 
that many were recalled from death to life, we are also naturallj 
led to believe the general resurrection of all ; and the principal 
fruit which we should derive from these miracles is to yield tt 
this Article our most unhesitating belief. To pastors, ordinarily 
conversant with the Sacred Volumes, many Scripture proofs will, 
at once, present themselves ; but, in the Old Testament, the 
most conspicuous are those afforded by Job, when he says, 
" that in his flesh he shall see God ;" 8 and by Daniel when, 
speaking of those " who sleep in the dust of the earth," he says, 
" some shall awake to eternal life, others to eternal reproach." 8 
In the New Testament the principal passages are those of St. 
Matthew, which record the disputation which our Lord held 
with the Sadducees ; 10 and those of the Evangelists which relate 
to the last judgment. 11 To these we may also add, the accurate 
reasoning of the Apostle, on the subject, in his epistles to the 
Corinthians, 12 and Thessalonians. 13 

Illustrated But, incontrovertibly as is this truth established by faith, it 
by compa- will, notwithstanding, be of material advantage to show from 
analogy and reason, that what faith proposes to our belief, nature 
acknowledges to accord with her laws, and reason with her dic 
tate. To one, asking how the dead should rise again, the 
Apostle answers ; " Foolish man ! that which thou sowest is 

i Isaias xl. 6. 2 j o hn i. 14. = 2 Tim. ii. 17. "3 Kings xvii. 21, 22 

5 4 Kings iv. 34 ; xiii. 21. 6 Matt. ix. 25. Luke yii. 14, 15. John xi. 43, 44 

i Acts ix. 40 ; xx. 10. Job xix. 26. 9 Dan. xii. 2. lo Matt. xxii. 31 

" John v. 25 ; xxviii. 29. 12 1 Cor. xv. 13 1 Thess. iv. 13. 

On the eleventh article of the Creed 87 

not quickened, except it die first; and that which them sowest, 
thou sowest not the body that shall be ; but bare grain as of 
wheat, or of some of the rest ; but God giveth it a body as he 
will :" and a little after, " It is sown in corruption, it shall rise 
in incorruption." 1 St. Gregory, calls our attention to many 
other arguments of analogy tending to the same effect: " The 
sun," says he, " is every day withdrawn from our eyes, as it were, 
by dying, and is again recalled, as it Avere, by rising again : trees 
lose, and again, as it were, by a resurrection, resume their ver 
dure : seeds die by putrefaction, and rise again by germination." 3 

The reasons, also, adduced by ecclesiastical writers, are well Proved by 
calculated to establish this truth. In the first place, as the soul 
is immortal, and has, as part of man, a natural propensity to be son 
united to the body, its perpetual separation from it must be con 
sidered contrary to nature. But as that which is contrary to 
nature, and offers violence to her laws, cannot be permanent, it 
appears congruous that the soul should be reunited to the body ; 
and, of course, that the body should rise again. This argu 
ment, our Saviour himself employed, when, in his disputation 
with the Sadducees, he deduced the resurrection of the body 
from the immortality of the soul. 3 

In the next place, as an all-just God holds out punishments 
to the wicked, and rewards to the good, and as very many of 
the former depart this life unpunished for their crimes, and of 
the latter unrewarded for their virtues ; the soul should be re 
united to the body, in order, as the partner of her crimes, or the 
companion of her virtues, to become a sharer in her punishments 
or her rewards. 4 This view of the subject has been admirably 
treated by St. Chrysostom in his homily to the people of An 
tioch. 5 To this effect, the Apostle speaking of the resurrection, 
says, " If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are of 
all men the most miserable." 8 These words of St. Paul cannot 
be supposed to refer to the misery of the soul, which, because 
immortal, is capable of enjoying happiness in a future life, were 
the body not to rise ; but to the whole man ; for, unless the 
body receive the due rewards of its labours, those, who, like 
the Apostles, endured so many afflictions and calamities in this 
life, should necessarily be " the most miserable of men." On 
this subject the Apostle is much more explicit in his epistle to 
the Thessalonians : " We glory in you," says he, " in the 
Churches of God, that you may be counted worthy of the king 
dom of God, for which, also, you suffer : seeing it is a just 
thing with God to repay tribulation to them that trouble you ; 
and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus 
shall be revealed from heaven with the angels of his power ; in 
a flame of fire, yielding vengeance to them who know not God, 
and who obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 7 

1 1 Cor xv. 3642. 2 S. Gregor. lib. 14. moral, c. 2830. 

3 Matt. xxii. 23. 4 Damasc. lib. 4. de fide orthod. cap. 28. Ambros. lib. 

de fide resurr. * S. Chrysostom, bornil. 49 and 50. t> 1 Cor. xv. 19. 

72Thess. 1. 4. 


The resur 
rection of 
all not the 

All shall 
die to rise 

All shall 
rise in their 
own bodies. 

The, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Again, whilst the soul is separated from the body, man cannot 
enjoy the consummation of happiness, replete with every good; 
for as a part, separated from the whole, is imperfect, the soul 
separated from the body must be imperfect ; and, therefore, that 
nothing may be wanting to fill up the measure of its happiness, 
the resurrection of the body is necessary. By these, and simi 
lar arguments, the pastor will be able to instruct the faithful in 
this Article. 

He should also, carefully explain, from the Apostle, who are 
to be raised to life. Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul says, 
" as in Adam all die, so, also, in Christ all should be made 
alive." 1 Good and bad, then, without distinction, shall all rise 
from the dead, although the condition of all shall not be the 
same those who have done good, shall rise to the resurrection 
of life ; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of 

When we say " all," we mean those who shall have died 
before .the day of judgment, as well as those who shall then 
die. That the Church acquiesces in the opinion which asserts 
that all, without distinction, shall die, and that this opinion is 
more consonant to truth, is recorded by the pen of St. Jerome, 2 
whose authority is fortified by that of St. Augustine. 3 Nor does 
the Apostle, in his epistle to the Thessalonians, dissent from 
this doctrine, when he says ; " The dead who are in Christ 
shall rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, shall be 
taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into 
the air." 4 St. Ambrose explaining these words says, " In that 
very taking up, death shall anticipate, as it were by a deep 
sleep, and the soul, having gone forth from the body, shall in 
stantly return ; for those who are alive, when taken up, shall 
die, that, coming to the Lord, they may receive their souls from 
his presence ; because in his presence they cannot be dead." 5 
This opinion is fortified by the authority of St. Augustine in his 
book on the City of God. 6 

But as it is of vital importance to be fully convinced that the 
identical body, which belongs to each one of us during life, 
shall, though corrupt, and dissolved into its original dust, be 
raised up again to life ; this, too, is a subject which demands 
accurate explanation from the pastor. It is a truth conveyed 
by the Apostle in these words ; " This corruptible must put on 
incorruption ;" 7 emphatically designating by the word " this," 
the identity of our bodies. It is also, evident from the prophecy 
of Job, than which nothing can be more express : " I shall see 
my God," says he, " whom I myself shall see, and mine eyes 
behold, and not another." 8 Finally, if we only consider the 
very definition of resurrection, we cannot, reasonably, entertain 
a shadow of doubt on the subject; for resurrection, as Damas- 

1 1 Cor. xv. 22. 2 S. Hieron. epist 152. 3 August, de Civil. Dei. lib. xx. c. 20. 
1 Thess. v 15, 16. In 1. epist. ad Thess. c. 4. 6 Lib. xx. c. 20. 

7 1 Cor. xv. 53. h Job xix. 26, 27. 

On the eleventh article of the Creed. 89 

ceqe defines it, is " a return to the state from which one has 
fallen." 1 Finally, if we consider the arguments by which we 
have already established a future resurrection, every doubt on 
the subject must, at once, disappear. We have said that the 
body is to rise again, that " every one may receive the proper 
things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be 
good or evil." 3 Man is, therefore, to rise again, in the same 
body with which he served God, or was a slave to the devil ; 
that in the same body he may experience rewards, and a crown 
of victory, or endure the severest punishments, and never end 
ing torments. 

Not only will the body rise, but it will rise endowed with In what 
whatever constitutes the reality of its nature, and adorns and stat ? the 
ornaments man : according to these admirable words of St. ^Hise. 
Augustine : " There shall, then, be no deformity of body ; if 
some have been overburdened with flesh, they shall not resume 
its entire weight; whatever shall exceed the proper habit shall 
be deemed superfluous. On the other hand, should the body 
be wasted by the malignity of disease, or the debility of old age, 
or be emaciated from any other cause, it shall be recruited by 
the divine power of Jesus Christ, who will not only restore the 
body, but repair whatever it shall have lost through the wretch 
edness of this life." 3 In another place he says ; " Man shall 
not resume his former hair, but shall be adorned with such as 
will become him, according to these words of the Redeemer, 
The very hairs of your head are all numbered : 4 God will re 
store them according to his wisdom." 5 

The members, because essential to the integrity of human None shall 
nature, shall all be restored : the blind from nature or disease, the rise maim- 
lame, the maimed, and the paralysed shall rise again with per- ed 
feet bodies : otherwise the desires of the soul, which so strongly 
incline it to a union with the body, should be far from satisfied ; 
and yet we are convinced, that in the resurrection, these desires 
shall be fully realized. Besides, the resurrection, like the 
creation, is clearly to be numbered amongst the principal works 
of God. As, therefore, at the creation, all things came perfect 
from the hand of God ; so, at the resurrection shall all things be 
perfectly restored by the same omnipotent hand. 

These observations are not to be restricted to the bodies of The scars 
the martyrs ; of whom St. Augustine says : " As the mutilation f the mar- 
which they suffered should prove a deformity, they shall rise " ^"il 

-i 11 -| . . i i w * 4 M II!<IJI1 UJ 

with all their members ; otherwise those who were beheaded their glory: 
should rise without a head. The scars, however, which they * he me f m ~ 
received, shall remain, shining like the wounds of Christ, wicked 
with a brilliancy far more resplendant than that of gold and of shall be re- 
precious stones." 8 The wicked too, shall rise with all then ^^9 
members, although they should have been lost through their own their pu 

1 Damasc. lib. iv de fid. orthod. 28. 2 2 Cor. v. 10. 3 S. Aug. 1. xxii. 

de Civil. Dei, c. 1921. & Ench. c. 8689. Hierm. Epist. 59. 61. 
4 Luke xii. 7. 6 S. Aug Ench. c. kxxvi. 6 Lib. xxii. de Civ. Dei, c. 20 

8* M 

90 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

fault : for the greater the number of members which they shall 
have, the greater shall be their torments ; and, therefore, this 
restoration of members, will serve to increase, not their happi 
ness, but their misery. Merit or demerit is ascribed not to the 
members, but to the person to whose body they are united : to 
those, therefore, who shall have done penance, they shall be 
restored as sources of reward ; and to those who shall have con 
temned it, as instruments of punishment. If the pastor bestow 
mature consideration on these things, he can never want words 
or ideas to move the hearts of the faithful, and enkindle in them 
the flame of piety ; that, considering the troubles of this life, 
they may look forward, with eager expectation, to that blessed 
glory of the resurrection which awaits the just. 

The bodies It now remains to explain to the faithful, in an intelligible 
of the good manner, how the body, when raised from the dead, although 
had shall 6 substantially the same, shall be different in many respects. To 
rise immor- omit other points, the great difference between the state of all 
tal bodies when risen from the dead, and what they had previously 

been, is, that, before the resurrection, they were subject to dis 
solution ; but, when reanimated, they shall all, without distinc- 
This, the tion of good and bad, be invested with immortality. This ad- 
result of niirable restoration of nature is the result of the glorious victory 
ofChrSt 7 f Christ over death ; as it is written, " He shall cast death 
over death, down headlong for ever;" 1 and, " O Death ! I will be thy 
death ;" a words which the Apostle thus explains, " and the 
enemy death shall be destroyed last;" 3 and St. John, also, says, 
" Death shall be no more." 4 There is a peculiar congruity in 
the superiority of the merits of Christ, by which the power of 
death is overthrown, 5 to the fatal effects of the sin of Adam ; 
and, it is consonant to the divine justice, that the good enjoy 
endless felicity; whilst the wicked, condemned to everlasting 
torments, " shall seek death, and shall not find it ; shall desire 
to die, and death shall fly from them." 8 Immortality, therefore, 
will be common to the good and to the bad. 

The qua- Moreover, the bodies of the saints when resuscitated, shall be 
lities of a distinguished by certain transcendant endowments, which will 
ennoble them far beyond their former condition. Amongst these 
endowments, four are specially mentioned by the Fathers, Avhich 
they infer from the doctrine of St. Paul, and which are called 
" qualities." 7 

Impassi- The first is " impassibility," which shall place them beyond 
the reach of pain or inconvenience of any sort. Neither the 
piercing severity of cold, nor the glowing intensity of heat can 
affect them, nor can the impetuosity of waters hurt them. " It 
is sown," says the Apostle, "in corruption, it shall rise in incor- 
ruption." 8 This quality, the schoolmen call impassibility, no; 
incorruption : in order to distinguish it as a property peculiar to 

i Isa. xxv. 8. 2 Osee xiii. 14. 3 1 Cor. TV. 26. 4 Apoc. ri. 4. 

6 Heb. ii. 14. 6 Apoc. ix. 6. 7 De his Aug. Serm. 99. de temp. Ambr. 

in com. in 1. ad Cor. c. 15. " 1 Cor. xv. 42. 

On the eleventh article of the Creed. 91 

a glorified body. The bodies of the damned, though incorrupti 
ble, shall not be impassible : they shall be capable of expe 
riencing heat and cold, and of feeling pain. 

The next quality is " brightness," by which the bodies of the Brightness, 
saints shall shine like the sun ; according to the words of our 
Lord recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew: "The just shall 
shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father." 1 To remove 
the possibility of doubt on the subject, he left us a splendid ^ex 
emplification of this glorious quality in his transfiguration. 2 This 
quality the Apostle sometimes calls glory, sometimes brightness ; 
" He will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the 
body of his glory :" 3 and again, " It is sown in dishonour, it 
shall rise in glory." 4 Of this glory the Israelites beheld some 
image in the desert ; when the face of Moses, after he had been 
in the presence of, and had conversed with God, shone with 
such resplendent lustre that they could not look on it. 5 This 
brightness is a sort of refulgence reflected from the supreme 
happiness of the soul an emanation of the bliss which it en 
joys, and which beams through the body. Its communication 
is analogous to the manner in which the soul itself is rendered 
happy, by a participation of the happiness of God. Unlike the 
former, this quality is not common to all in the same degree. 
All the bodies of the saints shall, it is true, be equally impassi 
ble : but the brightness of all shall not be the same : for, ac 
cording to the Apostle ; " One is the glory of the sun, another 
the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars, for 
star difl ereth from star in glory : so also, is the resurrection of 
the dead." 6 

To this quality is united that of " agility," as it is called, by Agility, 
which the body shall be freed from the burden that now presses 
it down ; and shall require a capability of moving with the ut 
most facility and celerity, wherever the soul pleases, as St. Au 
gustine teaches in his book on the City of God, 7 and St. Jerome 
on Isaias. 8 Hence these words of the Apostle ; "It is sown 
in weakness, it shall rise in power." 9 

Another quality is that of " subtilty ;" a quality which sub- Subtilty 
jects the body to the absolute dominion of the soul, and to an 
entire obedience to her control : as we infer from these words 
of the Apostle ; "It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a 
spiritual body." 10 These are the principal points on which the 
pastor will dwell in the exposition of this Article. 

But in order that the faithful may know what fruit they are ^van- 
to reap from a knowledge of so many and such exalted mys- d^pmed- 
teries ; the pastor will proclaim, in the first place, that to God, tation on 
who has hidden these things from the wise, and made them 
known to little ones, we owe a debt of boundless gratitude! 
How many men, eminent for wisdom and learning, who never 

i Matt. xiii. 43. 2 Matt. xvii. 2. 3 Philip, iii. 21. < 1 Cor. xv. 43. 

5 Exod. xxxiv. 29. 2 Cor. iii. 7. <= l Cor. xv. 41, 42. Aug. de Civ. Dei, 
lib. xiii. c. 18. 20. et lib. xxii. c. 11. Hieron. in Isaiara, cap. 40. 

9 1 Cor. xv. 43. 10 1 Cor. xv. 44 

92 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

arrived at a knowledge of this truth ? Aware, then, of his spe 
cial predilection towards us, in making known to us this sublime 
truth to us who could never aspire to such knowledge it be 
comes our duty to pour forth our gratitude in unceasing praises 
of his goodness and clemency. 

II. Another important advantage to be derived from deep reflec 
tion on this Article is, that in it we shall experience a balm, to 
heal the wounded spirit, when we mourn the loss of those who 
were endeared to us by friendship or connected with us by 
blood ; a balm which the Apostle himself administered to the 
Thessalonians when writing to them "concerning those Avho 
slept." 1 

III. But in all our afflictions and calamities, the thought of a fu 
ture resurrection must bring relief to the troubled heart ; as we 
learn from the example of Job, who supported himself under 
an accumulation of afflictions and of sorrows, solely by the 
hope of, one day, rising from the grave, and beholding the Lord 
his God. 3 

IV. It must also, prove a powerful incentive to the faithful to use 
every exertion to lead lives of rectitude and integrity, unsullied 
by the defilement of sin ; for, if they reflect, that those riches 
of inconceivable value, which God will bestow on his faithful 
servants after the resurrection, are now proposed to them as 
rewards ; they must find in the reflection the strongest induce- 

V ment to lead virtuous and holy lives. On the other hand, no 
thing will have greater effect in subduing the passions, and 
withdrawing souls from sin, than frequently to remind the sin 
ner of the miseries and torments with which the justice of God 
will visit the reprobate, who, on the last day, shall rise to the 
resurrection of judgment. 3 



Why the THE wisdom of the Apostles, our guides in religion, suggested 
last Article to tnem the p ropr i e ty of giving this Article the last place in 
Creed. the Creed, which is the summary of our faith ; first, because, 
after the resurrection of the body, the only object of the Chris 
tian s hope, is the reward of everlasting life ; and secondly, in 
order that perfect happiness, embracing as it does, the fulness 
of all good, may be ever present to our minds, and absorb all 
our thoughts and affections. In his instructions to the faithful, 
the pastor, therefore, will unceasingly endeavour to light up in 
their souls, an ardent desire of the proposed rewards of eternal 
life ; that thus they may look upon whatever difficulties they 

i 1 Thess. i v. 1 3. 2 Job xix. 26. John v. 29. 

On the twelfth article of the Creed. 93 

may experience in the practice of religion, as light, and even 
agreeable, and may yield a more willing and an entire obedi 
ence to God. 

But as many mysteries lie concealed under the words, which its mean 
are here used, to declare the happiness reserved for us ; they m s- 
are to be explained in such a manner as to make them intelli 
gible to all, as far as their respective capacities will allow. The 
faithful, therefore, are to be informed, that the words, "life 
everlasting," signify not only that continuity of existence, to 
which the devils and the wicked are consigned, but also, that 
perpetuity of happiness which is to satisfy the desires of the 
blessed. In this sense they were understood by the " ruler," 
mentioned in the Gospel, when he asked the Redeemer : 
" Lord! what shall I do to possess everlasting life?" 1 As if he 
had said, what shall I do, in order to arrive at the enjoyment 
of everlasting happiness ? In this sense they are understood in 
the Sacred Volumes, as is clear from a reference to many pas 
sages of Scripture. 3 The supreme happiness of the blessed is 
thus designated, principally to exclude the notion that it con 
sists in corporeal and transitory things, which cannot be ever 
lasting. 3 

The word "blessedness" is insufficient to express the idea, Why call- 
particularly as there have not been wanting men, who, inflated ed "f e 
with the vain opinions of a false philosophy, would place the f,^ r 
supreme good in sensible things ; but these grow old and perish,, 
whilst supreme happiness is defined by no limits of time. Nay, 
more, so far is the enjoyment of the goods of this life from 
conferring real happiness, that, on the contrary, he who is cap 
tivated by a love of the world, is farthest removed from true 
happiness : for it is written : " Love not the world, nor the 
things that are in the world; if any one love the world, the 
love of the Father is not in him :" 4 and a little after, " The 
world passeth away and the concupiscence thereof." 5 The 
pastor, therefore, will be careful to impress these truths on the 
minds of the faithful, that they may learn to despise earthly 
things, and to know that, in this world, in which we are not 
citizens, but sojourners, 8 happiness is not to be found. Yet, 
even here below, we may be said, with truth, to be happy in 
hope ; " if denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we live 
soberly, and justly, and godly in this world ; looking for the 
blessed hope and coming of the great God, and our Saviour 
Jesus Christ."? Many "who seemed to themselves wise," 8 
not understanding these things, and imagining that happiness 
was to be sought in this life, became fools and the victims of 
the most deplorable calamities. 

These words, "Life everlasting," also teach us that, contrary True hap- 
to the false notions of some, happiness once attained can never 

1 Luke xviii. 18. 2 Matt. six. 29 ; xxv. 46. Rom. vi. 22. 

3 Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. 19. c. 11. < Uohn ii. 15. 5 i John ii. 17. 

1 Pet. ii. 11. 7 Tit. ii. 11. 13. Rom. i. 22. 

94 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

must be be lost. Happiness is an accumulation of good without admix 
everlast- ture o f ev j^ wn ich, as it fills up the measure of man s desires, 
must be eternal. He who is blessed with its enjoyment must 
earnestly desire its continuance, and, were it transient and un 
certain, should necessarily experience the torture of continual 
apprehension. 1 

The happi- The intensity of the happiness which the just enjoy in their 
ness of the ce i e stial country, and its utter incomprehensibility to all but to 

lust, intense , , J <v ^ i i_ A. j 

and incom- themselves alone, are sufficiently conveyed by the very words 
prehensi- which are here used to express that happiness. When, to ex 
press any idea, we make use of a word common to many others, 
we do so, because we have no proper term by which to express 
it clearly and fully. When, therefore, to express happiness, we 
adopt words which are equally applicable to all who are to live 
for ever, as to the blessed ; we are led to infer that the idea pre 
sents to the mind something too great, too exalted, to be ex 
pressed fully by a proper term. True, the happiness of heaven 
is expressed in Scripture by a variety of other words, such as, 
the "Kingdom of God," 3 " of Christ," 3 " of heaven," 4 " Para 
dise," 5 "the Holy City," "the New Jerusalem," 6 "my Fa 
ther s house ;" 7 yet it is clear that none of these appellations is 
sufficient to convey an adequate idea of its greatness, 
a powerful The pastor, therefore, will not neglect the opportunity which 
incentive fa[ s Article affords, of inviting the faithful to the practice of 
piety, of justice, and of all the other virtues, by holding out to 
them such ample rewards as are announced in the words " life 
everlasting." Amongst the blessings which we instinctively 
desire, life is, confessedly, esteemed one of the greatest : by it 
principally, when we say " life everlasting," do we express the 
happiness of the just. If then, during this short and chequered 
period of our existence, which is subject to so many and such 
various vicissitudes, that it may be called death rather than life, 
there is nothing to which we so fondly cling, nothing which we 
love so dearly as life ; with what ardour of soul, with what 
earnestness of purpose, should we not seek that eternal happi 
ness, which, without alloy of any sort, presents to us the pure 
and unmixed enjoyment of every good? The happiness of 
eternal life is, as defined by the Fathers, " an exemption from 
all evil, and an enjoyment of all good." 8 That it is an exemp 
tion from all evil, the Scriptures declare in the most explicit 
terms : " they shall no more hunger and thirst," says St. John, 
" neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat ;" 9 and again, 
" God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes : and death shall 
be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow, shall be any 
more, for the former things are passed away." 10 But the glory of 

> Vid. Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. 12. cap. 20. lib. 22. c. 29, & 30. de libero arbit, cap. 
25. de verb. Domini, serm. 64, & serm. 37, de Sanctis. 

SActsxiv. 22. 3 2 Pet. i. 11. Matt y. 3. 20. 

6 Luke xxiii. 43. 6 Apoc. xxi. 10. 7 John xiv. 2. 

s Chrysost. in 30. cap. ad Thood. lapsum. Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. 22. cap. 30. 
AnsHm. ujiist 2. et de similit. c. 47. et seq. 

9 Apoc. vii. 16. I0 Apoc. xxi. 4. 

On the twelfth article of the Creed. 95 

the blessed shall be without measure, and their solid joys and 
pleasures without number. The mind is incapable of compre 
hending or conceiving the greatness of this glory : it can be 
known only by its fruition, that is, by entering into the joy of 
the Lord, and thus satisfying fully the desires of the human heart. 
Although, as St. Augustine observes, it would seem easier to 
enumerate the evils from which we shall be exempt, than the 
goods and the pleasures which we shall enjoy; 1 yet we must 
endeavour to explain, briefly and clearly, these things which are 
calculated to inflame the faithful with a desire of arriving at the 
enjoyment of this supreme felicity. 

Before we proceed to this explanation, we shall make use of a Happiness 
distinction, which has been sanctioned by the most eminent j^^f 

writers on religion ; it is, that there are two sorts of goods, one and acces- 
an ingredient, another an accompaniment of happiness. The ^T- 
former, therefore, for the sake of perspicuity, they have called 
essential ; the latter, accessory. Solid happiness, which we 
may designate by the common appellation, " essential," con 
sists in the vision of God, and the enjoyment of his eternal 
beauty who is the source and principle of all goodness and per 
fection : " This," says our Lord, " is eternal life, that they may 
know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou 
hast sent." 3 These sentiments St. John seems to interpret, when 
he says ; " Dearly beloved ! We are now the sons of God ; 
and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that 
when he shall appear, we shall be like to him : because we 
shall see him, as he is." 3 These words inform us that the hap 
piness of heaven consists of two things : to see God such as he 
is in his own nature and substance, and to be made like unto 

Those who enjoy the beatific vision, whilst they retain their Effect of 
own nature, shall assume a certain admirable and almost divine t} ? e . beatifio 
form, so as to seem gods rather than men ; and why they as- th eblesiled 
sume this form, becomes at once intelligible, if we only reflect 
that every thing is known from its essence, or from its resem 
blance and external appearance : but as nothing resembles God, How com- 
so as to afford, by that resemblance, a perfect knowledge of 
him, no creature can behold his divine nature and essence, un 
less admitted by the Deity to a sort of union with himself; ac 
cording to these words of St. Paul : " We now see through a 
glass in a dark manner, but then face to face." 4 The words, "in 
a dark manner," St. Augustine understands to mean that we 
see him in a resemblance calculated to convey to us some faint 
notion of^ the Deity. 5 This, St. Denis clearly shows, when he 
says : " The things above cannot be known by comparison with 
the things below ; for, the essence and substance of any thing 
incorporeal must be known, through the medium of that which 
is corporeal : particularly as a resemblance must be less gross 

1 Serm. vi. 4. de verb. Domini et de Symb ad Catech. lib. 3. 2 John xvii. 3. 
1 1 John iii. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. Aug. lib. 15. de Civ. Dei, c. 9. 

96 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

and more spiritual, than that which it represents, as we know, 
from universal experience. Since, therefore, we can find no 
thing created, equally pure and spiritual with God, no resem 
blance can enable us, perfectly to comprehend the divine es 
sence." 1 Moreover, all created things are circumscribed within 
certain limits of perfection ; but God is circumscribed by no 
limits, and therefore nothing created can reflect his immensity. 
The only means, therefore, of arriving at a knowledge of the 
divine essence, is that God unite himself in some sort to us ; 
and after an incomprehensible manner, elevate our minds to a 
higher degree of perfection, and thus render us capable of con 
templating the beauty of his nature. This the light of his glory 
will accomplish : illumined by its splendour, we shall see God, 
the true light, in his own light. 3 The blessed always see God 
present, and by this greatest and most exalted of gifts, " being 
made partakers of the divine nature," 3 they enjoy true and solid 
happiness. Our belief of this truth should therefore be animated 
by an assured hope of one day arriving, through the divine 
goodness, at the same happy term ; according to these words 
of the Nicene Creed : " I expect the resurrection of the dead, 
and the life of the world to come." These are divine truths 
which defy the powers of human language, and mock the limits 
Anillustra- of human comprehension. We may, however, trace some re- 
tion of this sem blance of this happy change in sensible objects, for as iron, 
when acted on by fire, becomes ignited, and, whilst it is sub 
stantially the same, seems changed into fire, which is a different 
substance ; so the blessed, who are admitted into the glory of 
heaven, and who burn with a love of God, although they cease 
not to be the same, are yet affected in such a manner, as that 
they may be said with truth to differ more from the inhabitants 
of this earth, than iron, when ignited, differs from itself when 

In whates- To say all in a few words : supreme and absolute happiness, 
sentialhap- w hich we call essential, consists in the possession of God ; for 
m Jts. 88 " wnat can he want to consummate his happiness, who possesses 

God, the fountain of all good, the fulness of all perfection ? 
The acces- To this happiness, however, are appended certain gifts which 
sories of are common to all the blessed, and which, because more within 
the reach of human comprehension, are generally found more 
effectual in exciting the mind and inflaming the heart. 4 These 
the Apostle seems to have in view, when, in his epistle to the 
Romans, he says : " Glory, and honour, and peace, to every 
one that worketh good." 5 The blessed shall enjoy glory, not 
only that glory which we have already shown to constitute es 
sential happiness, or to be its inseparable accompaniment ; but 
also that glory which consists in the clear and comprehensive 
knowledge, which each of the blessed shall have of the singu 
lar and exalted dignity of his companions in glory. 

. divin.nom. c.l. JPs.xxxv. 10. 3 2 Pet. i. 4. 

4 Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. xxii. c. 30. 5 Rom. n. 10. 

On the twelfth article of the Creed. 97 

But how distinguished must not that honour be which is con- The first. 
ferred by God himself, who no longer calls them servants, but 
friends, 1 brethren, 3 and sons of God ! 3 Hence the Redeemer 
will address his elect in these words, which at once breathe 
infinite love, and bespeak the highest honour : " Come, ye 
blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for 
you." 4 Justly, then, may we exclaim with the psalmist : " Thy 
friends, O God ! are made exceedingly honourable." 5 They shall 
also receive the highest praise from Christ the Lord, in presence of 
his Heavenly Father, and before the assembled hosts of heaven. 
And, if nature has interwoven in the human heart, the desire of These- 
honour, particularly when conferred by men eminent for wis- cond- 
dom, who are, therefore, the most authoritative vouchers of 
merit ; what an accession of glory to the blessed, to evince to 
wards each other the highest veneration ? 

To enumerate all the delights with which the souls of the The third 
blessed shall be inebriated, would be an endless task : we can 
not even conceive them in idea : with this truth, however, the 
minds of the faithful should be deeply impressed, that the hap 
piness of the saints is full to overflowing, of all those pleasures 
which can be enjoyed or even desired in this life, whether they 
regard the powers of the mind or the perfection of the body : a 
consummation more exalted in the manner of its accomplish 
ment, than, to use the words of the Apostle, " eye hath seen, 
ear heard, or the heart of man conceived." 6 The body, which The fourth, 
was before gross and material, having put off mortality, and now 
refined and spiritualized, shall no longer stand in need of corpo 
ral nutriment : whilst the soul shall be satiated with that eternal The fiflh. 
food of glory, which the master of that great feast will minister, 
in person, to all. 7 Who will desire rich apparel or royal robes, The sixth, 
when; these appendages of human grandeur shall be superse 
ded ; and all shall be clothed with immortality and splendour, 
and adorned with a crown of imperishable glory ! And, if the The se- 
possession of a spacious and magnificent mansion forms an in- venth 
gradient in human happiness, what more spacious, what more 
magnificent, can imagination picture, than the mansion of 
heaven, illumined, as it is throughout, with the blaze of glory 
which encircles the Godhead ! Hence, the prophet, contem 
plating the beauty of this dwelling-place, and burning with the 

sire of reaching those mansions of bliss, exclaims : " How 
lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts ! my soul longeth 
and famteth for the courts of the Lord : my heart and my flesh 
have rejoiced in the living God."* That the faithful may be all 
tilled with the same sentiments, and utter the same language, 
should be the object of the pastor s most earnest desires ; as it 
should be of his zealous labours. " In my Father s house," 
says our Lord, " there are many mansions," 9 in which shall be 
distributed rewards of greater and of less value, according to 

John xv. 14. 2Matt.xii.49. 3 Rom . viii . 15 16 . * Matt. xxv. 34. 
* Ps. cxxxvm. 17 61 Cor. u. 9. 7Lukexii.37. ft. lnxiii 1 8. 

9 John xiv. 2. 

9 N 

98 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

each one s deserts : for " He who soweth sparingly, shall reap 
sparingly : and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap of 
blessings." 1 

How to ar- The pastor, therefore, will not only move the faithful to a de 
rive at the s i re O f arr iving at this happiness ; but will frequently remind 
o" J thwTa them tnat > infallibly to attain it, they must possess the virtues 
piness. of faith and charity ; they must persevere in the exercise of 
prayer, and the salutary use of the sacraments, and in a faithful 
discharge of all the good offices which spring from fraternal 
charity. Thus, through the mercy of God, who has prepared 
that blessed glory for those who serve him, shall be one day 
fulfilled the words of the prophet : " My people shall sit in the 
beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence and of 
wealthy rest." 3 

i 2 Cor. ix. 6. 2 laaias xxxii. 18 







IF the exposition of every part of the doctrines of Christianity A know- 
demands knowledge and assiduity on the part of the pastor, that led g|ofthe 
of the Sacraments, which, by the ordinance of God, are a ne- menfeTpar-" 
cessary means of salvation, and a plenteous source of spiritual ticularly 
advantage, demands, in a special manner, the application of his necessar > - 
combined talents and industry. 1 Thus, by accurate and frequent 
instruction, shall the faithful be enabled to approach worthily 
and with salutary effect, these inestimable and most holy insti 
tutions ; and the pastor will not depart from the rule laid down 
in the divine prohibition : " Give not that which is holy to dogs : 
neither cast ye your pearls before swine." 3 

As then we are about to treat of the Sacraments in general, Different 
it is proper to begin, in the first place, by explaining the force meanings 
and meaning of the word " Sacrament," and removing all am- ga^! 
biguity as to its signification, in order the more easily to com- merit." 
prehend the sense in which it is here used. The faithful, there 
fore, are to be informed that the word Sacrament is differently 
understood by sacred and profane writers ; and to point out its 
different acceptations will be found pertinent to our present pur 
pose. By some it has been used to express the obligation i. 
which arises from an oath, pledging to the performance of some 
service ; and hence, the oath by which soldiers promise mili 
tary service to the state, has been called a military Sacrament. 
Amongst profane writers, this seems to have been the most 01- 
dinary meaning of the word. But, by the Latin Fathers, who II 
have written on theological subjects, the word Sacrament is used 
to signify a sacred thing which lies concealed. The Greeks, 
to express the same idea, made use of the word " Mystery." 
This, we understand to be the meaning of the word, when, in 

i Vii. Concil. Trid. Sess. 17. 2 Matt vii. 



a word of 
ancient ec 

100 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

the epistle to the Ephesians, it is said : " that he might make 
known to us the mystery (sacramentum) of his will ;"* and to 
Timothy, "great is the mystery (sacramentum) of godliness ;" a 
and in the book of Wisdom : " They knew not the secrets 
(sacramenta) of God. 3 In these and many other passages the 
word Sacrament, it will be perceived, signifies nothing more 
III. than a holy thing that lies concealed. Tne Latin Fathers, 
therefore, deemed the word no inappropriate term to express a 
sensible sign, which at once, communicates grace to the soul ot 
the receiver, and declares, and, as it were, places before the eyes 
the grace which it communicates. St. Gregory, however, is of 
opinion that it is called a Sacrament, because through its instru 
mentality, the divine power secretly operates our salvation, 
under the veil of sensible things. 4 

Let it not, however, be supposed that the word Sacrament is 
of recent ecclesiastical usage. Whoever peruses the writings 
of S. S. Jerome, 5 and Augustine, 6 will at once perceive, that 
ancient ecclesiastical writers made frequent use of the word 
" Sacrament," and sometimes also of the word " symbol," or 
" mystical or sacred sign," to designate that of which we here 
speak. Thus much will suffice in explanation of the word 
Sacrament : and indeed, what we have said applies equally to 
the Sacraments of the old law : but superseded, as they have 
been, by the gospel law and grace, instruction regarding them 
were superfluous. 

Besides the meaning of the word, which alone has hitherto 
engaged our attention, the nature and efficacy of that which it 
expresses demand our particular inquiry ; and the faithful must 
be taught what constitutes a Sacrament. That the Sacraments 
are amongst the means of attaining righteousness and salvation, 
cannot be questioned : but of the many definitions, each of them 
sufficiently appropriate, which may serve to explain the nature 
of a Sacrament, there is none more comprehensive, none more 
perspicuous, than that of St. Augustine : a definition which has 
since been adopted by all scholastic writers : " A Sacrament," 
says he, " is a sign of a sacred thing ;" or in other words of the 
same import; "A Sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible 
grace, instituted for our justification." 7 

Definition The more fully to develope this definition, the pastor will 
explained. ex pl a i n it in all its parts. He will first observe, that sensible 
objects are of two sorts : some invented as signs, others not ^in 
vented as signs, but existing absolutely and in themselves. To 
the latter class, almost every object in nature may be said to be 
long; to the former, spoken and written languages, military 
standards, images, trumpets, and a multiplicity of other things 
of the same sort, too numerous to be mentioned. Thus, with 
regard to words ; take away their power of expressing ideas, 

i Eph. i. 9. 2 1 Tim. iii. 16. 3 Wisd. ii. 22. 4 D. Greg, in 1. Reg. cap. 16. 
vers. 13. 5 vid. Hieron. in Amos, c. 1, v. i. & Iren. c. i. v. 15. 

6 Aug. in Joan. Tract. 80. in fine, et contra Faust, lib. 19. c. 11. Cypr. epist. 15, et 
l.h de bapt. Christ. . D. Aug. lib. 10. de Civ. Dei, c. 5. & epist. 2. 

ofa Sacra 

On the Sacraments. 101 

ancj you seem to take aAvay the only reason for their invention. 
They are, therefore, properly called signs : for, according to St. 
Augustine, a sign, besides Avhat it presents to the senses, is a 
medium through Avhich Ave arrive at the knoAvledge of something 
else : from a footstep, for instance, \vhich we see traced on the 
ground, AVC instantly infer that some one Avhose footstep appears 
has passed. 1 

A Sacrament, therefore, is clearly to be numbered amongst A Sacra- 
those things Avhich have been instituted as signs : it makes ^ v " 
known to us by external resemblance, that which God, by his a sign." 
invisible power, accomplishes in our souls. 2 To illustrate \vhat 
Ave have said by an example ; baptism, for instance, Avhich is 
administered by external ablution, accompanied Avith certain 
solemn Avords, signifies that by the poAver of the Holy Ghost, all 
the interior stains and defilements of sin are Avashed away, and 
that the soul is enriched and adorned Avith the admirable gift of 
heavenly justification ; whilst, at the same time, the baptismal 
ablution, as AVC shall hereafter explain in its proper place, ac 
complishes in the soul, that of Avhich it is externally significant. 
That a Sacrament is to be numbered amongst signs is clearly 
inferred from Scripture. Speaking of circumcision, a Sacrament 
of the old laAV which Avas given to Abraham, the father of all 
believers, 3 the Apostle, in his epistle to the Corinthians, says ; 
" and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the justice 
of the faith Avhich he had;" 4 and in another place ; " All Ave," 
says he, " Avho are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his 
death:" 5 Avords which justify the inference that baptism signi 
fies, to use the Avords of the same Apostle, that " we are buried 
together with him by baptism into death." 8 To know that the 
Sacraments are signs, is important to the faithful. This knoAV- 
ledge Avill lead them more readily to believe, that what they 
signify, contain, and effectuate, is holy and august ; and recog 
nising their sanctity, they Avill be more disposed to venerate and 
adore the beneficence of God displayed toAvards us in their in 

We noAv come to explain the Avords, " sacred thing," Avhich Also, - a 
constitute the second part of the definition. To render this ex- s cre{ !, 
planation satisfactory we must enter somewhat more minutely * 
into the accurate and acute reasoning of St. Augustine on the 
variety of signs. 7 

Of signs some are called natural, Avhich besides making them- Of signs, 
selves known to us, also convey a knowledge of something else ; some are 
an effect, as we have already said, common to all signs. Smoke, m 
for instance, is a natural sign from which Ave immediately infer 
the existence of fire. It is called a natural sign, because it im 
plies the existence of fire, not by arbitrary institution, but by its 

1 Aug. lib. 2. de doct. Christ, c. 1. 

2 Aug. de doct. Christ, lib. 3. c. 9. et epist. 23. et de Catch, erud. c. 26. potest 
videri Tertul. de resur. carnis. c. 8. et Greg, in 1. Reg. lib. 6. c. 3. post init. 

3 Gen. xvii. 10. 4 Rom. iv. 11. 5 Rom. vi. 3. 6 Rom. vi. 4 

7 Lib. 1. de doctr. Christ, c. 1. 


some con- 

Signs in- 
tituted by 


nincant lg " 
and effi- 

of the 


A fuller 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

intimate connexion with that element : when smoke appears we 
are at once convinced of the existence of latent fire. 1 

Other signs are not natural, but conventional, invented and 
instituted by men to enable them to commune one with another, 
mutually to convey their sentiments and communicate their 
counsels. The variety and multiplicity of such signs may be 
inferred from the circumstance, that some belong to the eyes, 
some to the ears, some to each of the other senses. When we 
intimate any thing by a sensible sign, for instance, by removing 
a military standard, it is obvious that such intimation can reach 
us only through the medium of the eyes ; and it is equally ob 
vious that the sound of the trumpet, of the lute, and of the lyre, 
instruments which are not only sources of pleasure, but fre 
quently signs of ideas, is addressed to the ear. Through the lat 
ter sense, are also conveyed words, which are the best medium 
of communicating our inmost thoughts. 

Besides those signs of which we have hitherto spoken, and 
wn i c h are conventional ; there are others, and confessedly of 
more sorts than one, which are of divine appointment. Some 
were instituted by God, solely to indicate something, or recall 
* ts reco ^ ect -i n : suc ^ were the purifications of the law, the 
showbread, and many other things which belonged to the Mo- 
sa j c WO rship ; 3 others not only to signify, but, also, to accom 
plish what they signify. Among the latter, are manifestly to be 
numbered the Sacraments of the New Law. They are signs 
instituted by God, not invented by man, which we believe, with 
an unhesitating faith, to carry with them that sacred efficacy of 
which they are the signs. Having, therefore, shown that signs 
present a variety of appearances ; the " sacred thing" which 
they contain, must also exist under a variety of forms. 

With regard to the proposed definition of a Sacrament, divines 
prove, that by the words "sacred thing," is to be understood 
tne S race ^ ^od, which sanctifies the soul and adorns it with 
every virtue ; and of this grace they consider the words 
" sacred thing," an appropriate appellation, because by its salu 
tary influence the soul is consecrated and united to God. 

In order, therefore, to explain more fully the nature of a Sa- 
crament, the pastor will teach that it is a thing subject to the 
senses ; and, possessing by divine institution, at once the power 
of signifying sanctity and justice, and of imparting both to the 
receiver. Hence, it is easy to perceive, that the images of the 
saints, crosses, and the like, although signs of sacred things, 
cannot be called Sacraments. That such is the nature of a Sa 
crament is easily proved by applying to each of the Sacraments 
what has been already said of baptism, viz. that the solemn ab 
lution of the body not only signifies, but has power to effect a 
sacred thing which is wrought in the soul by the invisible ope 
ration ot the Holy Ghost. 

1 Aug. de doct. Christ, lib. 2. c. 1. et seq. 

Aug. de doct. Christ, lib. 3. c. 9. Exod. xii. 15. Concil. Trid. Sess. 7. de Saci 

On the Sacraments. 103 

It is also pre-eminently, the property of these mystical signs, Every Sa- 
instituted by Almighty God, to signify, by divine appointment, gf^jfpg 
more than one thing, and this applies to all the Sacraments. All three 
declare not only our sanctity and justification, but also two thin fi s 
other things most intimately connected with both the passion 
of our Lord, which is the source of our sanctification, and eternal 
life to which, as to its end, our sanctification should be referred. 
Such, then, being the nature of all the Sacraments, the doctors 
of the Church justly hold, that each of them has a threefold 
significancy ; reminding us of something passed, indicating 
something present, foretelling something future. When we say 
that this is an opinion, held by the Doctors of the Church, let 
it not be imagined that it is unsupported by Scriptural authority. 
When the Apostle says : " All we who are baptized in Christ 
Jesus, are baptized in his death ;"* he gives us clearly to un 
derstand that baptism is called a sign, because it reminds us 
of the death and passion of our Lord. When he says : " We 
are buried together with him by baptism into death, that as 
Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so, we 
also, may walk in newness of life ;" a he also clearly shows, 
that baptism is a sign which indicates the infusion of divine 
grace into the soul, enables us by its efficacy to form our lives 
anew, and renders the performance of all the duties of true 
piety at once easy and inviting. Finally, when he adds : "If 
we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we 
shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection ;" 3 he teaches 
that baptism gives no obscure intimation of eternal life also, 
which we are to reach through its efficacy. 

Besides the different significations already evolved, the Sa- A Sacra- 
craments also not unfrequently indicate and mark the presence "mes^pnT 
of more than one thing. The holy Eucharist, for instance, at fiesthepre 
once signifies the presence of the real body and blood of Christ, sence f 
and the grace which it imparts to the worthy receiver. What 
has been said, therefore, cannot fail to supply the pastor with 
arguments to prove, how much the power of God is displayed 
how many hidden miracles are contained in the Sacraments ; 
that thus all may know and feel their obligation to reverence 
them with the most profound veneration, and to receive them 
with the most ardent devotion. 

But, of all the means employed to make known the proper The Sacra 
use of the Sacraments, there is none more effectual than a care- ments,why 
ful exposition of the reasons of their institution. Amongst these F 
reasons, for there are many, the first is the imbecility of the 
human mind : we are so constituted by nature, that no one can 
aspire to mental and intellectual knowledge, unless through the 
medium of sensible objects. Impelled, therefore, by his good 
ness towards us, and guided by his wisdom, the Sovereign Creator 
of the universe, in order to bring the mysterious effects of his 
divine power more immediately within the sphere of our com- 

1 Rom. vi. 3 2 R om- v i. 4 3 R om . v ;. 5 

104 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

prehension, has ordained that it should be manifested to us, 
through the intervention of certain sensible signs. As St. Chry- 
sostom happily expresses it: " If man were not clothed with a 
material body, these good things would have been presented to 
him unveiled by sensible forms ; but, as he is composed of body 
and soul, it was absolutely necessary to employ sensible signs, 
in order to assist in making them understood." 1 

Second. Another reason is, because the mind yields a reluctant assent 

to promises ; and hence, God, from the beginning of the world, 
very frequently, and in express terms points our attention to the 
promises which he had made ; and when designing to execute 
something, the magnitude of which might weaken a belief in its 
accomplishment, he confirms his promise by signs, which some 
times appear miraculous. When, for instance, God sends Moses 
to deliver the people of Israel ; and Moses commissioned as 
he was by God, and shielded by his protecting arm, still hesi 
tates, fearing his incompetency to the task imposed on him, or the 
incredulous rejection of the divine oracles on the part of the 
people, the Almighty confirms his promise by many signs. 3 
As, then, in the old law, God ordained that every important 
promise should be confirmed by certain signs ; so, in the new, 
our divine Redeemer, when he promises pardon of sin, divine 
grace, the communication of the Holy Spirit, has instituted cer 
tain sensible signs which are so many pledges of the inviolability 
of his word pledges which we are well assured he will not fai7 
to redeem. 3 

Third. A third reason is, that the Sacraments bring, to use the words 

of St. Ambrose, the healing remedies and medicines, as it were, 
of the Samaritan mentioned in the Gospel. God wishes us to 
have recourse to them in order to preserve or recover the health of 
the soul ; 4 for, through the Sacraments as through its proper chan 
nel, should flow into the soul the efficacy of the passion of Christ, 
that is the grace which he purchased for us on the altar of the 
cross, and without which we cannot hope for salvation. Hence, 
our most merciful Redeemer has bequeathed to his Church, 
Sacraments stamped with the sanction of his word, and sealed 
with the security of his promise, through which, provided we 
make pious and devout use of these sovereign remedies, we 
firmly believe that the fruit of his passion is really conveyed to 
our souls. 

Fourth. A fourth reason why the institution of the Sacraments may 

seem necessary is, that there may be certain marks and symbols 
to distinguish the faithful ; particularly as, to use the words of 
St. Augustine, " no society of men, professing a true or a false 
religion, can, as it were, be incorporated, unless united and held 
together by some federal bond of sensible signs." 5 Both these 
objects, the Sacraments of the new law accomplish ; distinguish- 

Chrys. hom.83. in Matt. & horn. 60. ad Pop. Antioch. = Exod. iii. 10, 11. 

Ibid iv. 2. 3 Aug. lib. 4. de baplis. contra Donatist. cap. 24. * Ambr. lib. 5. de 
Sacr. c. 4. 5 p. Aug. lib. 19. contra Faust, c. 1 1 & de vera rel. c 17. Basil, in 
exh. ad bapt. 

On the Sacraments. 105 

ing the Christian from the infidel, and connecting the faithjul by 
a sort of sacred bond. 

Again, the Apostle says : " With the heart we believe unto Fifth 
justice ; but with the mouth confession is made unto salva 
tion." 1 These words, also, afford another very just reason for 
the institution of the Sacraments by approaching them, we 
make a public profession of our faith in the face of all men. 
Thus, when we stand before the baptismal font, we openly pro 
fess our belief in its efficacy, and declare that, by virtue of its 
salutary waters, in which we are washed, the soul is spiritually 
cleansed and regenerated. The Sacraments have also great in 
fluence, not only in exciting and exercising our faith, but also 
in inflaming that charity with which we should love one ano 
ther ; recollecting that, by participating of these mysteries in 
common, we are knit together in the closest bonds of union, and 
are made members of one body. 

Finally, and the consideration is of the highest importance Sixth, 
in the study of Christian piety, the Sacraments repress and sub 
due the pride of the human heart, and exercise the Christian in 
the practice of humility, by obliging him to a subjection to sen 
sible elements ; that thus, in atonement for his criminal defec 
tions from God to serve the elements of this world, he may yield 
to the Almighty the tribute of his obedience. These are princi 
pally what appeared to us necessary for the instruction of the 
faithful, in the name, nature, and institution of a Sacrament. 
When they shall have been accurately Expounded by the pastor, 
his next duty will be to explain the constituent parts of each 
Sacrament, and the rites and ceremonies used in its adminis 

In the first place, then, the pastor will inform the faithful, Every Su- 
that the " sensible thing" which enters into the definition of a crament 

i j i i i i consists of 

Sacrament as already given, although constituting but one sign, ma tter and 
is of a twofold nature : every Sacrament consists of two things ; form 
" matter," which is called the element, and " form," which is 
commonly called " the word." This is the doctrine of the 
Fathers of the Church, upon which the testimony of St Augus 
tine is familiar to all : " The word," says he, " is joined to the 
element, and it becoires a Sacrament." 3 By the words " sen 
sible thing," therefore, the Fathers understand not only the mat 
ter or element, water in baptism, chrism in confirmation, 
and oil in extreme-unction, all of which fall under the eye ; but 
also the words which constitute the form, and which are ad 
dressed to the ear. are clearly pointed out by the Apostle, 
when he says : " Christ loved the. Church, and delivered him 
self up for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver 
of water in the word of life." 3 Here the matter and form of the 
Sacrament are expressly mentioned. But in order to explain, 
more fully and clearly, the particular efficacy of each, the words 
which compose the form were to be added to the matter ; for 

1 Rom. x. 10 2 Aug. in Joan.tract. 80. 3 ph. v . 25 


106 TJie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

of all signs, words are evidently the most significant, and with 
out them it would be difficult to comprehend what the matter of 
the Sacraments may designate and declare. Water, for instance, 
has the quality of cooling as well as of cleansing, and may be 
symbolic of either. In baptism, therefore, unless the words were 
added, it might be matter of conjecture, of certainty it could not, 
which was signified ; but when the words which compose the 
form are added, we are no longer at a loss to understand, that 
baptism possesses and signifies the power of cleansing. 1 
The Sacra- In this, the Sacraments of the New Law excel those of the 
merits of QJ^ ^^ fa ere was no definite form, known to us, of adminis- 
Law, excel tering those of the Old, a circumstance which rendered them 
those of uncertain and obscure, whilst, in those of the new, the form is 
1116 Old so definite, that any, even a casual, deviation from it renders the 
Sacrament null ; and it is therefore expressed in the clearest 
terms, and such as exclude the possibility of doubt. These 
then are the parts which belong to the nature and substance of 
the Sacraments, and of which every Sacrament is necessarily 

Sacraments To these are added certain ceremonies, which although not 
administer- to be omitted without sin, unless in case of necessity, yet, if at 
mincere- " an 7 time om itted, because not essential to its existence, do not 
monies; invalidate the Sacrament. It is not without good reason, that 
and why. t h e administration of the Sacraments has been, at all times, from 
the earliest ages of the Church, accompanied with certain solemn 
First rea- ceremonies. There is, in the first place, an obvious propriety 
son- in manifesting such a religious reverence to the sacred myste 

ries, as to appear to handle holy things holily. These ceremo- 
Second- nies also serve to display more fully, and place as it were be 
fore our eyes, the effects of the Sacraments, and to impress 
more deeply on the minds of the faithful the sanctity of thes< 
T^ird sacred institutions. They also elevate to sublime contemplation 
the minds of those who behold them with respectful and reli 
gious attention ; and excite within them the virtues of faith and 
of charity. To enable the faithful therefore to know, and un 
derstand clearly, the meaning of the ceremonies made use of in 
the administration of each Sacrament, should be an object of 
special care and attention to the pastor. 

Number of We now come to explain the number of the Sacraments ; a 

the Sacra- knowledge of which is attended with this .advantage, that the 

fTtoV 186 " g reater the number of supernatural aids to salvation which the 

known. faithful shall understand to have been provided by the divine 

goodness, the more ardent the piety with which they will direct 

all the powers of their souls to praise and proclaim the singular 

beneficence of God. 

Theicnum- The Sacraments then of the Catholic Church are seven, as 

ber, seven. j s proved from Scripture, from the unbroken tradition of the 

Fathers, and from the authoritative definitions of councils. 3 Why 

Aug. de doct. Christi, lib. ii. c. 3. 2 Trid. sess. 7. 2an 

1 fie sac. in gen. Cone. Flo. in dec. ad Arm. D. Th. p. 3. q. 63. art. 1 

On the Sacraments. 107 

they are neither more nor less, may be shown, at least with Explained 
some degree of probability, even from the analogy that exists by anal sy- 
between natural and spiritual life. In order to exist, to preserve 
existence, and to contribute to his own and to the public good, 
seven things seem necessary to man to be born to grow to 
be nurtured to be cured when sick when weak to be strength 
ened as far as regards the public weal, to have magistrates in 
vested with authority to govern and, finally, to perpetuate him 
self and his species by legitimate offspring. Analogous then as all 
these things obviously are, to that life by which the soul lives 
to God, we discover in them a reason to account for the number 
of the Sacraments. Amongst them, the first is Baptism, the Baptism, 
gate, as it were, to all the other Sacraments, by which we are 
born again to Christ. The next is Confirmation, by which we Confirma- 
grow up, and are strengthened in the grace of God : for, as St. tion - 
Augustine observes, "to the Apostles who have already re 
ceived baptism, the Redeemer said : stay you in the city till 
you be indued with power from on high. "* The third is the Eucharist. 
Eucharist, that true bread from heaven which nourishes our 
souls to eternal life, according to these words of the Saviour ; 
" My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." 3 
The fourth is Penance, by which the soul, which has caught Penance, 
the contagion of sin, is restored to spiritual health. The fifth is Extreme- 
Extreme Unction, which obliterates the traces of sin, and invi- Unction, 
gorates the powers of the soul ; of which St. James says : " if 
Jie be in sins, they shall be forgiven him." 3 The sixth is Holy Holy Or- 
Orders, which gives power to perpetuate in the Church the ders - 
public administration of the Sacraments, and the exercise of all 
the sacred functions of the ministry. 4 The seventh and last is Matri- 
Matrimony, a Sacrament instituted for the legitimate and holy mon y- 
union of man and woman, for the conservation of the human 
race, and the education of children, in the knowledge of reli 
gion, and the love and fear of God. 

All and each of the Sacraments, it is true, possess an admira- All the Sa 
ble efficacy given them by God : but it is well worthy of re- craments 
mark, that all are not of equal necessity or of equal dignity, nor is l equally 
the signification of all the same.. Amongst them three are of " 
paramount necessity, a necessity, however, which arises from 
different causes. The universal and absolute necessity of bap 
tism, these words of the Redeemer unequivocally declare : 
" Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he 
cannot enter into the kingdom of God." 5 The necessity of Pe 
nance is relative : Penance is necessary for those only who have 
stained their baptismal innocence, by mortal guilt : without sin 
cere repentance, their eternal ruin is inevitable. Orders, too, 
although not necessary to each of the faithful,, are of absolute 
general necessity to the Church. 8 But, the dignity of the Sa- 

1 D. Aug. ep. 1 "3. et Luke xxiv. 49. 2 Johnvi. 55. 3 James v. 15. 

4 Luke v. 11. 5 John iii. 5 6 Trid. 1. Sess. 7, can. 3, 4. de feutr. in germ. 
D. Tli. p. 3. q. 05. art. 4. 


The Eu 
charist ex 
cels all the 
others in 

Christ, the 
author of 
the Sncra- 

Men, their 

The un- 
of the mi 
nister does 
not affect 
the validity 
of the Sa- 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

craments considered, the Eucharist, for holiness, and for the 
number and greatness of its mysteries, is eminently superior to 
all the rest. These, however, are matters which will be more 
easily understood, when we come to explain, in its proper place, 
what regards each of the Sacraments. 1 

We come, in the next place, to ask from whom we have re 
ceived these sacred and divine mysteries : any boon, however 
excellent in itself, receives no doubt an increased value and 
dignity from him by whose bounty it is bestowed. The ques 
tion, however, is not one of difficult solution : justification comes 
from God; the Sacraments are the wonderful instruments of 
justification ; one, and the same God in Christ, must, therefore, 
be the author of justification, and of the Sacraments. 3 The Sacra 
ments, moreover, contain a power and efficacy which reach the 
inmost recesses of the soul ; and as God alone has power to 
enter into the sanctuary of the heart, he alone, through Christ, 
is manifestly the author of the Sacraments. That they are in 
teriorly dispensed by him, is also matter of faith ; according to 
these words of St. John : " He who sent me to baptize with 
water, said to me ; he upon whom them shalt see the Spirit de 
scending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with 
the Holy Ghost," 3 

But God, although the author and dispenser of the Sacra 
ments, would have them administered in his Church by men, 
not by angels : and to constitute a Sacrament, as constant tra 
dition testifies, matter and form are not more necessary than is 
the ministry of men. 

But, representing as he does, in the discharge of his sacred 
functions, not his own, but the person of Christ, the minister of 
the Sacraments, be he good or bad, validly consecrates and con 
fers the Sacraments ; provided he make use of the matter and 
form instituted by Christ, and always observed in the Catholic 
Church, and intends to do what the Church does in their ad 
ministration. Unless, therefore, Christians will deprive them 
selves of so great a good, and resist the Holy Ghost, nothing 
can prevent them from receiving, through the Sacraments, the 
fruit of grace. 4 That this was, at all times, a fixed and well de 
fined doctrine of the Church, is established beyond all doubt by 
St. Augustine, in his disputations against the Donatists ; 5 and 
should we desire Scriptural proof also, we have it in the words 
of St. Paul ; " I have planted, Apollo watered ; but God gave 
the increase." 8 Neither he that plants, therefore, nor he that 
waters, is any thing, but God who gives " the increase." As, 
therefore, in planting trees, the vices of the planter do not im 
pede the growth of the vine, so, and the comparison is suffi- 

1 Dionys. lib. de Eccles. Hier. c. 3. 

2 Ambr. lib. 4. de Sacr. cap. 6. D. Tho. p. 3. q. 62. Trid. Sess. 7. can. 1 de Sacr. 
in gen. lib. de Eccles. dog. & Cassian. collat. 7. 18. 3 John i 33. 

4 Trid. Sess. 7. de Sac. in gen. c. 11 & 12. Greg. JNaz. in Oral, in S. bapt. Ambr 
de hisqui myst. init. cap. 5. Chrysost. horn. 8. in 1 Cor. 

s A i. contra Crescen. lib. 4. c. 20. contra Dpnat. lib. 1. c. 4. & lib. 2. contra 
lit P.-til. c. 47. 6 I Cor. iii. 6. 

On the Sacraments. 109 

eiently intelligible, those who were planted in Christ by the 
ministry of bad men, sustain no injury from guilt which is not 
their own. Judas Iscariot, as the Holy Fathers infer from the 
Gospel of St. John, 1 Conferred baptism on many ; and yet none 
of those whom he baptized are recorded to have been baptized 
again. To use the memorable words of St. Augustine : " Judas 
baptized, and yet after him none were rebaptized : John bap 
tized, and after John they were rebaptized, because the baptism 
administered by Judas was the baptism of Christ, but that ad 
ministered by John was the baptism of John : 3 not that we 
prefer Judas to John, but that we justly prefer the baptism of 
Christ, although administered by Judas, to the baptism of John 
although administered by the hands of John." 3 

But, let not the pastor, or other minister of the Sacraments, To admi- 
hence infer thj.t he fully acquits himself of his duty, if, disre- g^a- 11 * 6 
garding integrity of life and purity of morals, he attend only to merits in 
the administration of the Sacraments in the manner prescribed. s f at ? of 
True, the manner of administering them is a matter of the high- g r i evous 
est importance ; but it is no less true, that it does not constitute crime 
all that enters into the worthy discharge of this duty. It should 
never be forgotten, that the Sacraments, although they cannot 
lose the divine efficacy inherent in them, bring eternal death and 
everlasting perdition on him who dares to administer them with 
hands stained with the defilement of sin. Holy things, and the 
observation cannot be too often repeated, should be treated 
holily, and with due reverence : 4 " To the sinner," says the 
prophet, "God has said: why dost thou declare my justices, 
and take my covenant in thy mouth, seeing that thou hast hated 
discipline ?" 5 If then, for him who is defiled by sin it is unlaw 
ful to speak on divine things, how enormous the guilt of that 
man, who, with conscious guilt, dreads not to consecrate with 
polluted lips these holy mysteries to take them to touch them 
nay more, with sacrilegious hands, to administer them to 
others ? B The symbols, (so he calls the Sacraments) " the 
wicked," says St. Denis, " are not allowed to touch." 7 It 
therefore becomes the first, the most important duty of the 
minister of these holy things, to aspire to holiness of life, to ap 
proach with purity the administration of the Sacraments, and so 
to exercise himself in the practice of piety, that, from their fre 
quent administration and use, they may every day receive, with 
the divine assistance, a more abundant effusion of grace. 

When these important matters have been explained, the T !"j> e ^ cls 
effects of the Sacraments present to the pastor the next subject cramenti . 
of instruction ; a subject, it is hoped, which will throw consi 
derable light on the definition of a Sacrament as already given. 

The principal effects of the Sacraments are two ; sanctifying Justifying 
grace, and the character which they impress. The former, that gra( 
is, the grace which we, in common with the doctors of the 

1 John iv. 2. 2 Ac s xix. 3 5. 3 Aug. in Joan. 

4 Aug. in Joan, tract. 5. & contra Cresc. lib. 3. c. 6. D. Thorn, p. 3. q. 93. art. 4. 

5 Ps. xlix. 16. 6 Cone. Trid. can. 6. 1 S. Dion, de Eccl. Hier c. 1. 


110 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Church, call sanctifying grace, deservedly holds the first place 
That this is an effect produced by the Sacraments, we know 
from these words of the Apostle : " Christ," says he, " loved 
the Church, and delivered himself up for it ; that he might sanc 
tify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life." 1 * 
But how so great and so admirable an effect is produced by the 
Sacraments, that, to use the words of St. Augustine, "water 
cleanses the body, and reaches the heart :" a this, indeed, the 
mind of man, aided by the light of reason alone, is unequal to 
comprehend. It ought to be an established law, that nothing 
sensible can, of its own nature, reach the soul ; but we know 
by the light of faith, that in the Sacraments exists the power of 
the Omnipotent, effectuating that which the natural elements 
cannot of themselves accomplish. 3 

The grace That on this subject no doubt may exist in the minds of the 
of the Sa- faithful, God, in the abundance of his mercy, was pleased, from 
why!ofol d, the moment of their institution, to manifest by exterior mira- 
prpved by cles, the effects which they operate interiorly in the soul : this 
miracles, j^ ^j^ m or( j er t j iat we ma y always believe that the same in 
terior effects, although inaccessible to the senses, are still pro 
duced by them. To say nothing of that which the Scripture re 
cords that, at the baptism of the Redeemer in the Jordan, " The 
heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the form 
of a dove ;"* to teach us, that when we are washed in the sa 
cred font, his grace is infused into our souls to omit these 
splendid miracles which have reference rather to the consecra 
tion of baptism, than to the administration of the Sacraments- 
do we not read, that on the day of Pentecost, when the Apos 
tles received the Holy Ghost, and were, thenceforward, inspired 
with greater courage and firmer resolution to preach the faith, 
and brave danger of every sort for the glory of Christ, " there 
came suddenly a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind com 
ing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting, and 
there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire." 5 
These visible effects give us to understand that, in the Sacra 
ment of Confirmation, the same spirit is given us, and the same 
strength imparted, which enable us resolutely to encounter, and 
with fortitude to resist, our implacable enemies, the world, the 
flesh, and the devil. 8 As often as. these Sacraments were ad 
ministered by the Apostles, so often, during the infancy of the 
Church, did the same miraculous effects follow ; and they ceased 
not to be visible until the faith had acquired maturity and 

The Sacra- From what has been said of sanctifying grace, the first effect 
ments of o f t i ie Sacraments, it also clearly follows, that there resides in 
kwnperi- the Sacraments of the New Law, a virtue far more exalted and 

i Eph. v. 25, 26. 2 S. Aug. in Joan, tract. 80. 

3 De hoc effectu sacramen. vid. Trid. Sess. 7, can. 6, 7, 8. de sacr. Aug. tract. 2b 
in Joan. & contr. Faust, c. 16 & 17, & in Ps. Ixxvii. 15, 16. 

4 Matt. iii. 16. Mark i. 10. Luke iii. 22. 5 Acts i. 2, 6. 

6 Aug. lib. quasi. Vet. & Nov. Test. q. 93. 

On the Sacraments 111 

efficacious than that of the Sacraments of the Old, 1 which, as or to those 
" weak and needy elements, 2 sanctified such as were defiled to of tne old - 
the cleansing of the flesh," 3 but not of the spirit. They were, 
therefore, instituted as signs only of those things, which were 
to be accomplished by the Sacraments of the new law Sacra 
ments which flowing from the side of Christ, " who, by the 
Holy Ghost, offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our 
consciences from dead works, to serve the living God," 4 and 
thus work in us, through the blood of Christ, the grace which 
they signify. Comparing them, therefore, with the Sacraments 
of the old law, we shall find that not only are they more effica 
cious, but, also, more exuberant of spiritual advantages, and 
Stamped with the characters of superior dignity and holiness. 5 

The other effect of the Sacraments, an effect, however, not Three of 
common to all, but peculiar to three, Baptism, Confirmation, and the Sacra- 
Holy Orders, is the character which they impress on the soul. 
When the Apostle says : " God hath anointed us, who also hath racter. 
sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts," 8 he 
clearly designates by the word " sealed," this sacramental cha 
racter, the property of which is to impress a seal and mark on 
the soul. This character is, as it were, a distinctive and inde 
lible impression stamped on the soul ; 7 of which St. Augustine 
says : " Shall the Christian Sacraments accomplish less than 
the bodily mark impressed on the soldier ? That mark is not 
stamped on his person anew, as often as he resumes the military 
service which he had relinquished ; but the old one is recog 
nised and approved." 8 

This character has a two-fold effect, it qualifies us to receive Its effect 
or. perform something sacred, and distinguishes us one from an- tw -f d 
other. In the character impressed by Baptism, both effects are 
exemplified : by it we are qualified to receive the other Sacra 
ments ; and the Christian is distinguished from those who pro 
fess not the name of Christ. The same illustration is afforded 
by the characters impressed by Confirmation and Holy Orders : 
by the one we are armed and arrayed as soldiers of Christ, pub 
licly to profess and defend his name, to fight against our domes 
tic enemy, and against the spiritual powers of wickedness in 
the high places, and are also distinguished from those who, 
being newly baptized, are, as it were, neAV-born infants : the 
other combines the power of consecrating and administering the 
Sacraments, and also distinguishes those who are invested with 
this power, from the rest of the faithful. The rule of the Ca 
tholic Church is, therefore, inviolably to be observed : it teaches 
that these three Sacraments impress a character and are never 
to be reiterated. 

1 Aug. lib, 19 contr. Faust, c. 13, & in Ps. hxxiii. Ambr. lib. de Sacr. c. 4. 

2 Gal. iv. 9 3 Heb. ix. 13. 1 Heb. ix. 14. 
6 Aug. lib. 2. de Simb. c. 6, & in Joan. Tract. 15, & lib. 15. de Civil. Dei, c. 26 
6 2 Cor. i. 21. - Trid ib. can. 

8 De hoc charact. vide Aug. lib. 2. contr. ep Farm. c. 33, & ep. 50, circa, medi 
um, & tract 6, in Joan. & lect. 1. contr. Cresceii. c. 30. item D. Thorn, p. 3. q. 6J. 

112 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Two things On the subject of the Sacraments in general, these are the 
in \ievv^hy matter s of instruction which we proposed to deliver. In com- 
the Pastor, municating them to the faithful, the pastor will keep in view, 
m his ex- principally, two things : the one, to impress on the minds of the 
of the Sa- faithful a deep sense of the honour, respect and veneration, due 
eramcnts. to these divine and celestial gifts ; the other, to urge on all the 
necessity of having recourse, piously and religiously, to those 
sacred institutions established by the God of infinite mercy, for 
the common salvation of all ; and of being so inflamed with the 
desire of attaining Christian perfection, as to deem it a deplorable 
loss to be, for any time, deprived of the salutary use, particularly, 
of Penance, and of the Holy Eucharist. These important ob 
jects the pastor will find little difficulty in accomplishing, if he 
press frequently on the attention of the faithful, what we have 
already said on the august dignity and salutary efficacy of 
the Sacraments that they were instituted by the Lord Jesus, 
from whom nothing imperfect can emanate that when admi 
nistered, the most powerful influence of the Holy Ghost is pre 
sent, pervading the inmost sanctuary of the soul that they pos 
sess an admirable and unfailing virtue to cure our spiritual 
maladies, and communicate to us the inexhaustible riches of the 
passion of our Lord in fine, that the whole edifice of Christian 
piety, although resting on the most firm foundation of the cor 
ner stone, unless supported on every side by the preaching of 
the divine word, and by the use of the Sacraments, must, it is 
greatly to be apprehended, having partially yielded, ultimately 
fall to the ground; for as we are ushered into spiritual life by 
means of the Sacraments ; so, by the same means, are we nur 
tured aiid preserved, and grow to spiritual increase. 


Importance FROM what has been hitherto said on the Sacraments in gene- 
of the ral, we may judge how necessary it is, to a proper understand- 
of "the^ 6 1U S f tne doctrines of the Christian faith, and to the practice 
cramentsin of Christian piety, to know what the Catholic Church proposes 
particular, to our belief on the Sacraments in particular. That a perfect 
OfBaptism. knowledge of Baptism is particularly necessary to the faithful, 
an attentive perusal of the epistles of St. Paul, will force upon 
the mind. The Apostle, not only frequently, but also in language 
the most energetic, in language full of the Spirit of God, re 
news the recollection of this mystery, exalts its transcendant 
dignity, and in it places before us the death, burial, and resur 
rection of our Lord, as objects of our contemplation and imita 
tion. 1 The pastor, therefore, can never think that he has be 

i Rom. vi. 3. Colos. ii. 12, 13. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 113 

stowed sufficient labour and attention on the exposition of this 
Sacrament. Besides the great festivals of Easter and Pentecost, 
festivals on which the Church celebrated this Sacrament with 
the greatest solemnity and devotion, and on which particularly, 
according to ancient practice, its divine mysteries are to be ex 
plained ; the pastor should, also, take occasion, at other times, 
to make it the subject matter of his instructions. 1 

For this purpose, a most convenient opportunity would seem When most 
to present itself, whenever the pastor, when about to administer gnT^ex- 
this Sacrament, finds himself surrounded by a considerale num- plained 
her of the faithful : on such occasions, it is true, his exposition 
cannot embrace every thing that regards baptism ; but he can 
develope one or two points with greater facility, whilst the faith 
ful see them expressed, and contemplate them with devout at 
tention, in the sacred ceremonies which he is performing. Thus 
each person, reading a lesson of admonition in the person of him 
who is receiving baptism, calls to mind the promises by which 
he had bound himself to the service of God when initiated by 
baptism, and reflects whether his life and morals evince that 
fidelity to which every one pledges himself, by professing the 
name of Christian. 

To render what we have to say, on this subject, perspicuous, Meaning ol 
we shall explain the nature and substance of the Sacrament ; ^ lie word 
premising, however, an explication of the word Baptism. The "^ ptls 
word Baptism, as is well known, is of Greek derivation. Al 
though used in Scripture to express not only that ablution which 
forms part of the Sacrament, but also every species of ablution, 3 
and sometimes, figuratively, to express sufferings ; yet it is em 
ployed, by ecclesiastical writers, to designate not every sort of 
ablution, but that which forms part of the Sacrament, and is 
administered with the prescribed sacramental form. In this 
sense, the Apostles very frequently make use of the word, in 
accordance with the institution of Christ. 3 

This Sacrament, the Holy Fathers designate also by other other 
names. St. Augustine informs us that it was sometimes called names rf. 
the Sacrament of Faith ; because, by receiving it, we profess 
our faith in all the doctrines of Christianity : 4 by others it was 
denominated "Illumination," because by the faith which we 
profess in baptism, the heart is illumined : " Call to mind," says 
the Apostle, alluding to the time of baptism, " the former days, 
wherein being illumined, you endured a great fight of afflic 
tions." 5 St. Chrysostom, in his sermon to the baptized, calls 
it a purgation, through which "we purge away the old leaven, 
that we may become a new paste :" he, also, calls it a burial, a 
planting, and the cross of Jesus Christ : 7 the reasons for all 
these appellations may be gathered from the epistle of St. Paul 

i r*e hoc usu antique vid. Tertul. lib. de Baptis. c. 19. Basil, in exhort, ad baja 
Amb. lib. de myst. Paschee. 2 Mark vii. 4. 

3 Rom. vi. 3. 1 Pet. iii. 21. Octo baptism! geneva vid. Damasc. lib. 4. de fidu 
ortliod. 10. 4 D. Aug. epist, 25. in fin. 5 Heb. x. 32. 6 1 Cor. v. 7. 

~ S. Chrysost. x. 5. 
10* P 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 


to the Romans. 1 St. Denis calls it the beginning of the most 
holy commandments, for this obvious reason, that baptism is, as 
it were, the gate through which we enter into the fellowship of 
Christian life, and begin thenceforward, to obey the command 
ments. 3 This exposition of the different names of the Sacra 
ment of baptism, the pastor will briefly communicate to the 
people. 3 

With regard to its definition, although sacred writers give 
many, to us that which may be collected from the words of our 
Lord, recorded in the Gospel of St. John, and of the Apostle, in 
his epistle to the Ephesians, appears the most appropriate : 
" Unless," says our Lord, a man be born again of water and 
the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God ;" 4 
and, speaking of the Church, the Apostle says : " cleansing it 
by the laver of water in the word of life." 5 From these words, 
Baptism may be accurately and appropriately denned : " The 
Sacrament of regeneration by water in the word." By nature, 
we are born from Adam, children of wrath ; but by baptism we are 
regenerated in Christ, children of mercy ; for, " He gave power 
to men to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his 
name, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor 
of the will of man, but of God." 8 

But, define Baptism as we may, the faithful are to be informed 
that this Sacrament consists of ablution, accompanied, necessa 
rily, according to the institution of our Lord, by certain solemn 
words. 7 This is the uniform doctrine of the Holy Fathers ; a 
doctrine proved by the authority of St. Augustine : " The 
word," says he, " is joined to the element, and it becomes a Sa 
crament." That these are the constituents of Baptism, it be 
comes more necessary to impress on the minds of the faithful, 
that they may not fall into the vulgar error of thinking, that the 
baptismal water, preserved in the sacred font, constitutes the 
Sacrament. Then only is it to be called the Sacrament of Bap 
tism, when it is really used in the way of ablution, accompanied 
with the words appointed by our Lord. 8 

It matter. But, as we first said, when treating of the Sacraments in 
general, that every Sacrament consists of matter and form ; it is 
therefore, necessary to point out what constitutes each of these 
in the Sacrament of Baptism. The matter then, or element of 
this Sacrament, is any sort of natural water, which is, simply, 
and without addition of any kind, commonly called water ; be it 
sea-water, river-water, water from a pond, well, or fountain : 
our Lord has declared that, " Unless a man be born again of 
water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of 
God." 9 The Apostle also says, that the Church was cleansed 

In what the 

i Rom. vi. 3. 2 s. Dion, de Eccl. Hier. c. 2. 

3 Do variis baptis. nom. vid. Gregor. Nazianz. orat. in sancta lumina. et Clem. 
Alex. lib. 1. Poedag. cap. 6. * John iii. 5. & Eph. v. 26. 

6 John i. 12, 13. 7 Mitt, xxviii. 19. 

* line, de revid. Chrysost. horn. 2-J. in Joan. Aug. lib. 6. contra. Donatist. c. 25 
Cone. Florent. et Tr. d. item August, truct. SO in Joan. 9 Joliinii 5. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 115 

"by the laver of water;" 1 and in the epistle of St. Tohn, we 
read these words : " There are three that give tesumony on 
earth ; the spirit, and the water, and the blood." 3 The Scrip 
ture affords other proofs which establish the same proof. When, 
however, the baptist says that the Lord will come, " who will 
baptise in the Holy Ghost, and in fire ;" 3 he is not to be under 
stood to speak of the matter, but of the effect of baptism, pro 
duced in the soul by the interior operation of the Holy Ghost ; 
or, if not, of the miracle performed on the day of Pentecost, 
when the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles, in the form 
of lire, 4 as was foretold by our Lord, in these words; "John, 
indeed, baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the 
Holy Ghost, not many days hence." 5 

That water is the matter of Baptism, the Almighty signified Figure and 
both by figures and by prophecies, as we know from holy FP hecies 
Scripture : According to the prince of the Apostles, in his first 
epistle, the deluge which swept the world, because " the wick 
edness of men was great on the earth, and all the thoughts of 
their hearts were bent upon evil," 6 was a figure of the waters of 
Baptism. 7 To omit the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian, 8 and 
the admirable virtue of the pool of Bethsaida, 9 and many simi 
lar types, manifestly symbolic of this mystery; the passage 
through the Red Sea, according to St. Paul, in his epistle to the 
Corinthians, was typical of the waters of Baptism. 10 With re 
gard to the oracles of the prophets, the waters to which the pro 
phet Isaias so freely invites all that thirst," and those which 
Ezekiel saw in spirit, issue from the temple, 13 and also, " the 
fountain " which Zachary foresaw, " open to the house of Da 
vid, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for the washing of the 
sinner and of the unclean woman," 13 were, no doubt, so many 
types which prefigured the salutary effects of the waters of 

The propriety of constituting water the matter of baptism, of Water, 
the nature and efficacy of which it is at once expressive, St. Je- vvh y the . 
rome, in his epistle to Oceanus, proves by many arguments. 14 baptism 
Upon this subject, however, the pastor will teach, that water, 
which is always at hand, and within the reach of all, was the 
fittest matter of a Sacrament which is essentially necessary to 
all ; and, also, that water is best adapted to signify the effect of 
baptism. It washes away uncleanness, and is, therefore, strik 
ingly illustrative of the virtue and efficacy of baptism, which 
washes away the stains of sin. We may also add that, like 
water which cools the body, baptism in a great measure extin 
guishes the fire of concupiscence in the soul. 15 

But, although, in case of necessity, simple water unmixed Chrism, 

1 Eph v 26. 2 1 John v. 8. 3 Matt. ill. 11. 4 Acts ii. 3 

5 Acts i. 5. 6 Gen, vi. 5. ? 1 Pet. iii. 20, 21. s 4 Kings v 14 

John T.I 10 1 Cor. x. 1, 2. Isaias Iv. 1. > 2 Ezek. xlvii. 1. 

Zach. xiii. 1 14 D; Hieronymns cpist. 85. 

13 De mnteria bapt. vid. Cone. Florent. et Trid. sess. 7, can. 2, & de consecrat 
dist. 4, item D. Thorn, p. 3. q. 56, art. 5. 


why used 
in baptism. 

Form of 
baptism to 
be care 
fully ex 

In what it 
and when 

What es- 

T/te Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

with any other ingredient, is sufficient for the matter of baptism; 
yet, when administered in public with solemn ceremonies, the 
Catholic Church guided by apostolic tradition, the more fully 
to express its efficacy, has uniformly observed the practice of 
adding holy chrism. 1 And, although it may be doubted whether 
this or that water be genuine, such as the Sacrament requires, 
it can never be matter of doubt that the proper and the only 
matter of baptism is natural water. 

Having carefully explained the matter, which is one of the 
two parts of which the Sacrament consists, the pastor will evince 
equal diligence in explaining the second, that is the form, which 
is equally necessary with the first. In the explication of this 
Sacrament, a necessity of increased care and study arises, as 
the pastor will perceive, from the circumstance that the know 
ledge of so holy a mystery, is not only in itself a source of 
pleasure to the faithful, as is generally the case with regard to 
religious knowledge, but, also, very desirable for almost daily 
practical use. This Sacrament, as we shall explain in its proper 
place, is frequently administered by the laity, and most fre 
quently, by women ; and it, therefore, becomes necessary to 
make all the faithful indiscriminately, well acquainted with 
whatever regards its substance. 

The pastor, therefore, will teach, in clear, unambiguous lan 
guage intelligible to every capacity, that the true and essential 
form of baptism is : "I BAPTIZE THEE IN THE NAME OF THE 
delivered by our Lord and Saviour when, as we read in St. 
Matthew, he gave to his Apostles the command: " Going teach 
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 3 By the word " baptizing," the 
Catholic Church, instructed from above, most justly understands 
that the form of the Sacrament should express the action of the 
minister, and this takes place when he pronounces the words : 
"I baptize thee." Besides the minister of the Sacrament, the 
person to be baptized and the principal efficient cause of baptism 
should be mentioned. The pronoun " thee," and the names of 
the Divine Persons are, therefore, distinctly added ; and, thus, 
the absolute form of the Sacrament is expressed in the words 
already mentioned : " I baptize thee in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Baptism is the work 
not of the Son alone, of whom St. John says : " This is he who 
baptizeth ;" 3 but of the three Persons of the blessed Trinity. 
By saying, however, " in the name," not names, we distinctly 
declare that in the Trinity there is but one nature and Godhead. 
The word " name" is here referred not to the persons, but to 
the divine essence, virtue and power, which are one and the 
same in the three Persons. 4 

It is however to be observed, that of the words contained in 

1 Ambr. lib. 1. saer. c. 2. et Innoc. lib. 1. deer. tit. 1. c. 3. 

2 Matt, xxviii. 19. 3 John i. 33. 

< Vid. Aug. contra Donatist. lib. 6. c. 25. D. Thorn, p. 3. q. 66, art. 5. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 117 

this form, which we have shown to be the true and essential sential, 
one, some are absolutely necessary, the omission of them ren- 
dering the valid administration of the Sacrament impossible ; to it 
whilst others, on the contrary, are not so essential as to affect 
its validity. Of the latter kind is, in the Latin form, the word 
" ego," (I) the force of which is included in the word " bap- 
tizo," (I baptize.) Nay more, the Greek Church, adopting a 
different manner of expressing the form, and being of opinion 
that it is unnecessary to make mention of the minister, omits 
the pronoun altogether. The form universally used in the Greek 
Church is : " Let this servant of Christ be baptized in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." It ap 
pears, however, from the opinion and definition of the Council 
of Florence, that the Greek form is valid, because the words of 
which it consists, sufficiently express what is essential to the va 
lidity of baptism, that is, the ablution which then takes place. 

If at any time the Apostles baptized in the name of the Lord Baptism in 
Jesus Christ only, 1 they did so, no doubt, by the inspiration ^Q 1 ^! 
of the Holy Ghost, in order, in the infancy of the Church, to only, 
render their preaching in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ 
more illustrious, and to proclaim more effectually his divine and 
infinite power. If, however, we examine the matter more 
closely, we shall find that the Greek form omits nothing which 
the Saviour himself commands to be observed ; for the name of 
Jesus Christ implies the Person of the Father by whom, and 
that of the Holy Ghost in whom he was anointed. However, 
the use of this form by the Apostles becomes, perhaps, matter 
of doubt, if we yield to the opinions of Ambrose 2 and Basil, 3 
Holy Fathers eminent for sanctity and of paramount authority, 
who interpret " baptism in the name of Jesus Christ" as con 
tradistinguished to " baptism in the name of John," and who 
say that the Apostles did not depart from the ordinary and usual 
form which comprises the distinct names of the three Persons. 
Paul, also, in his epistle to the Galatians, seems to have ex 
pressed himself in a similar manner : " As many of you," says 
he, " as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ :"* 
meaning that they were baptized in the faith of Christ, and with 
no other form than that commanded by him to be observed. 

What has been said on the principal points which regard the fiaptism 
matter and form of the Sacrament will be found sufficient for the ^J^ed" 
instruction of the faithful : but, as in the administration of the by immer- 
Sacrament, the legitimate ablution should also be observed, on s !> infu - 
this point too the pastor will explain the doctrine of the Church. 
He will briefly inform the faithful that, according to the com 
mon practice of the Church, baptism may be administered by 
immersion, infusion, or aspersion ; and that administered in 
either of these forms it is equally valid. In baptism water is 
used to signify the spiritual ablution which it accomplishes, and 

1 Act ii. 38 , viii. 16 ; x. 48 ; xix. 5. 2 Ambr. lib. 1. de Spiritu Sancto, c. 3. 

3 Basil, lib. 1. de Spiritu Sancto, c. 12. < Gal. iii. 27. 

118 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

on this account baptism is called by the Apostle, a " laver."* 
This ablution takes place as effectually by immersion, which 
was for a considerable time the practice in the early ages of the 
Church, as by infusion, which is now the general practice, or 
by aspersion, which was the manner in which Peter baptized, 
when he converted and gave baptism to about three thousand 
souls." 2 It is also matter of indifference to the validity of the 
Sacrament, whether the ablution is performed once or thrice ; 
we learn from the epistle of St. Gregory the great to Leander, 
that baptism was formerly and may still be validly administered 
in the Church in either way. 3 The faithful, however, will 
follow the practice of the particular Church to which they 

Twoim- The pastor will be particularly careful to observe, that the 
matters to baptismal ablution is not to be applied indifferently to any part 
be observ- of the body, but principally to the head, which is pre-emiuently 
ed in its ad- the seat of all the internal and external senses ; and also that he 
tion. wno baptizes is to pronounce the words which constitute the 

form of baptism, not before or after, but when performing the ab 

Baptism When these things have been explained, it will also be ex- 

uued inSti pedient to remind the faithful that, in common with the other 
Sacraments, baptism was instituted by Christ. On this sub 
ject, the pastor will frequently point out two different periods of 
time which relate to baptism the one the period of its institu 
tion by the Redeemer the other, the establishment of the law 
which renders it obligatory. With regard to the former, it is 
clear that this Sacrament was instituted by our Lord, when, 
being baptized by John, he gave to the water the power of sanc 
tifying. St. Gregory Nazianzen* and St. Augustine testify that 
to the water was then imparted the power of regenerating to 
spiritual life. In another place St. Augustine says : " From the 
moment that Christ is immersed in water, water washes away all 
sins :" 5 and again the Lord is baptized, not because he had oc 
casion to be cleansed, but by the contact of his pure flesh to 
purify the waters, and impart to them the power of cleansing." 
The circumstances which attended the event afford a very strong 
argument to prove that baptism was then instituted by our Lord. 
The three persons of the most Holy Trinity, in whose name 
baptism is conferred, manifest their august presence the voice 
of the Father is heard the Person of the*Son is present the 
Holy Ghost descends in form of a dove and the heavens, into 
which we are enabled to enter by baptism, are thrown open. 6 
Water con- Should we, however, ask how our Lord has endowed water 
secrated to w ^ a y^^g so g re at, so divine ; this indeed is an inquiry 
baptism, which transcends the power of the human understanding. That 
when when our Lord was baptized, water was consecrated to the 
baptized! 18 samt ary use of baptism, deriving, although instituted before the 

1 Eph. v. 26. 2 Acts ii. 41. 3 Greg. lib. i. regist. epist 41. 

4 Greg. orat. in nat Salvat. circa finem. 5 Aug. serm. 29. 36, 37. de temp. 

6 Matt. iii. 16, 17. Mark i. 10, 11. Luke ii. 21, 22. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 1 1 9 

passion, all its virtue and efficacy from the passion, which is the 
consummation, as it were, of all the actions of Christ this, in 
deed, we sufficiently comprehend. 1 

The second period to be distinguished, that is, when the law The law 01 
of baptism was promulgated, also admits of no doubt. The ^j^. 
Holy Fathers are unanimous in saying, that after the resurrec- mulgated 
tion of our Lord, when he gave to his Apostles the command : 
" Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" 3 the law of 
baptism became obligatory, on all, who were to be saved. This 
is to be inferred from these words of St. Peter : " who hath re 
generated us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus 
Christ, from the dead ;" 3 and also from the words of St Paul ; 
" He delivered himself up for it :" (he speaks of the Church) 
that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in 
the word of life." 4 In both passages, the obligation of baptism 
is referred to the time, which followed the death of our Lord. 
These words of our Lord : " Unless a man be born again of 
water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom 
of God," 5 refer also, no doubt, to the time subsequent to his 
passion. If then the pastor use all diligence in explaining these 
truths accurately to the faithful, impossible that they should not 
fully appreciate the high dignity of this Sacrament, and enter 
tain towards it the most profound veneration ; a veneration which 
will be heightened by the reflection, that the Holy Ghost, by 
his invisible agency, still infuses into the heart, at the moment 
of baptism, those blessings of incomparable excellence, and of 
inestimable value, which were so strikingly manifested, by mi 
racles, at the baptism of Christ our Lord. Were our eyes, like 
those of the servant of Eliseus, 6 opened to see these heavenly 
things, who so insensible as not to be lost in rapturous admira 
tion of the divine mysteries, which baptism would then present 
to the astonished view ! when, therefore, the riches of this Sa 
crament are unfolded to the faithful by the pastor, so as to enable 
them to behold them, if not with the eyes of the body, with 
those of the soul illumined with the light of faith, is it not rea 
sonable to anticipate similar results ? 

In the next place, it appears not only expedient but necessary, The mims- 
to say who are ministers of this Sacrament ; in order that those ^ r f the 
to whom this office is specially confided, may study to perform ^em!" 
its functions, religiously and holily ; and that no one, outstep 
ping as it were, his proper limits, may unseasonably take pos 
session of, or arrogantly assume, what belongs to another ; for, 
as the Apostle teaches, order is to be observed in all things. 7 

The faithful, therefore, are to be informed that of those who Bishops 
administer baptism there are three gradations : bishops and *J d ff^ f 
priest* hold the first place ; to them belongs the administration office : 

i Vid. Hierott. in com. in. 3. cap. Matt. Aug. serm. 36. de temp. 

a Mark xvi. 15. Matt, xxviii. 19. 3 1 Pet. i. 3. > Eph. v. 25, 2G. 

5 John iii. 5. 6 4 Kings vi. 17. 7 1 Cor. xiv. 40. 

120 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

of this Sacrament, not by any extraordinary concession of power, 
but by right of office ; for to them, in the persons of the Apos 
tles, was addressed the command : " Go, baptize." 1 Bishops, 
it is true, not to neglect the more weighty charge of instructing 
the faithful, generally leave its administration to priests ; but 
the authority of the Fathers, 3 and the usage of the Church, prove 
that priests exercise this function of the ministry by a right in 
herent in the priestly order, a right which authorises them to 
baptize even in presence of the bishop. Ordained to consecrate 
the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of peace and unity, 3 it is 
necessary that they be invested with power to administer all 
those things, which are required to enable others to participate 
of that peace and unity. If, therefore, the Fathers have at any 
time said, that without the leave of the bishop, the priest has 
not power to baptize ; they are to be understood to speak of 
that baptism only, which was administered on certain days of 
the year with solemn ceremonies. 

Deacons by Next to bishops and priests, are deacons, for whom, as 
permission. namerous decrees of the holy Fathers attest, it is not lawful, 
without the permission of the bishop or priest to administer 
baptism. 4 

All persons Those who may administer baptism, in case of necessity, but 
n cTssit *- w tnout i ts solemn ceremonies, hold the third and last place ; 
but with- an( l in this class are included all, even the laity, men and wo- 
out its so- men, to whatever sect they may belong. This power extends, 
in case of necessity, even to Jews, infidels, and heretics ; pro 
vided, however, they intend to do what the Catholic Church 
does in that act of her ministry. Already established by the 
decrees of the ancient Fathers and Councils, these things have 
been again confirmed by the Council of Trent, which denounces 
anathema against those who presume to say, " that baptism, 
even when administered by heretics, in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of 
doing what the Church does, is not true baptism." 5 

In this, the And here let us admire the supreme goodness and wisdom of 
and wts- S our Lord, who, seeing the necessity of this Sacrament for all, 
<iom of not only instituted water, than which nothing can be more corn- 
God to be moilj as its ma tter ; but also placed its administration within the 
jurisdiction of all. In its administration, however, as we have 
already observed, all are not allowed to use the solemn ceremo 
nies ; not that rites and ceremonies are of higher dignity, but 
because they are of inferior necessity to the Sacrament. 
Order to be Let not the faithful, however, imagine that this office is given 
bVthemi- promiscuously to all, so as to supersede the propriety of observ- 
nisters of ing a certain order amongst those who administer baptism : 
baptism. \vhen a man is present, a woman ; when a clerk, a layman ; 

Matt, xxviii. 19. 2 Isid. lib. 2. de offic. Eccles. cap. 4. 

3 1 Cor. x. 17. 4 Distinct. 93. cap. 13. 

s Trid. sess. 7. can. de consec. dist. 4. cap. 24. Aug. lib. 7. contra Donalist. cap 
5]. et ibid. lib. 3. cap. 10. et lib. 2. contra Parmen. et Council. Lat. cap. 1. et Cone. 
Florent in deer. Eugenii. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 12 i 

when a priest, a simple clerk, should not administer this Sacra 
ment. Midwives, however, when accustomed to its administra 
tion, are not to be found fault with, if sometimes, when a man 
is present, who is unacquainted with the manner of its adminis 
tration, they perform what may otherwise appear to belong more 
properly to men. 

To those who, as we have hitherto explained, administer bap- Sponsors, 

tism, another class of persons is to be added, who, according to ? i a . nci ? nt 

r- i i~ii_ i ^ ^ i i. I- i institution, 

the most ancient practice of the Church, assist at the baptismal w hy j^. 

font ; and, who, although formerly called by sacred writers by tute 
the common name of sponsors or sureties, are now called God 
fathers and God-mothers. 1 As this is an office common almost 
to all the laity, the pastor will teach its principal duties, with 
care and accuracy. He will, in the first instance, explain why 
at baptism, besides those who administer the Sacrament, God 
fathers and God-mothers are also required. The propriety of 
the practice will at once appear, if we keep in view the nature of 
baptism, that it is a spiritual regeneration, by which we are born 
children of God ; of which St. Peter says : " As newborn in 
fants desire the rational milk without guile." 3 As, therefore, 
every one, after his birth, requires a nurse and instructor, by 
whose assistance and assiduity he is brought up, and formed to 
learning and morality ; so those, who, by the efficacy of the re 
generating waters of baptism, are born to spiritual life, should be 
intrusted to the fidelity and prudence of some one, from whom 
they may imbibe the precepts of the Christian religion, and the 
spirit of Christian piety; and thus grow up gradually in Christ, 
until, with the divine assistance, they at length arrive at the full 
growth of perfect manhood. This necessity must appear still 
more imperious, if we recollect, that the pastor, who is charged 
with the public care of his parish, has not sufficient time to 
undertake the private instruction of children in the rudiments 
of faith. For this very ancient practice, we have this illustrious 
testimony of St. Denis : " It occurred," says he, " to our divine 
leaders," (so he calls the Apostles,) " and they in their wisdom 
ordained, that infants should be introduced into the Church, in 
this holy manner that their natural parents should deliver them 
to the care of some one well skilled in divine things, as to a 
master under whom, as a spiritual father and guardian of his 
salvation in holiness, the child may lead the remainder of his 
life." 3 The same doctrine is confirmed by the authority of 
Higinus. 4 

The Church, therefore, in her wisdom, has ordained that not Affinity 
only the person who baptizes, contracts a spiritual affinity with fn baptist 
the person baptized, but also the sponsor with the God-child what and 
and its parents : so that marriage cannot be lawfully contracted between 
by them, and if contracted, it is null and void. 

1 Tert 1. de bapt. c. 18. et de coron. milit cap. 3. 21 Pet ii. 2. 

3 Dionys. de Eccl. Hier. c. 7. parte 3. 

4 Habetur de consec. dist. 5. cap. 100. et Leo, pp. ib. c. 101. et Cone. Mogunt 
ib. cap. 101. et 30. q. 1. 



The Catechism t/ the Council of Trent. 

Duties of 


The faithful are also to be taught the duty of sponsors ; for 
such is the negligence with which the office of sponsor is treated 
in the Church, that its name only remains ; whilst few, if any, 
have the least idea of its sanctity. Let all sponsors then, at all 
times recollect that they are strictly bound to exercise a constant 
vigilance over their spiritual children, and carefully to instruct 
them in the maxims of a Christian life ; that they may approve 
themselves through life, such as their sponsors promised they 
should be, by the solemn ceremony of becoming sponsors. On 
this subject, the words of St. Denis demand attention : Speak 
ing in the person of the sponsor, he says : " I promise, by my 
constant exhortations to induce this child, when he comes to a 
knowledge of religion, to renounce every thing opposed to his 
Christian calling, and to profess and perform the sacred pro 
mises, which he made at the baptismal font." 1 St. Augustine also 
says : "I most earnestly admonish you, men and women, who 
have become sponsors, to consider that you stood as sureties 
before God, for those whose sponsors you have undertaken to 
become. " a And, indeed, it is the paramount duty of every man, 
who undertakes any office, to be indefatigable in the discharge 
of the duties which it imposes ; and he, who solemnly professed 
to be the teacher and guardian of another, should not abandon 
to destitution him whom he once received under his care and 
protection, as long as he should have occasion for either. Speak 
ing of the duties of sponsors, St. Augustine comprises, in a few 
words, the lessons of instruction which they are bound to in 
culcate upon the minds of their spiritual children : " They 
ought," says he, " to admonish them to observe chastity, love 
justice, cherish charity ; and, above all, they should teach them 
the Creed, the Lord s prayer, the ten commandments, and the 
rudiments of the Christian religion." 3 

Hence, it is not difficult to decide, who are inadmissible as 
sponsors. To those, who are unwilling to discharge its duties 
with fidelity, or who cannot do so with care and accuracy, this 
sacred trust, no doubt, should not be confided. Besides, there 
fore, the natural parents, who, to mark the great difference that 
exists between this spiritual and the carnal bringing up of youth, 
are not permitted to undertake this charge, heretics, Jews parti 
cularly, and infidels, are on no account to be admitted to the office 
of sponsor. The thoughts and cares of these enemies of the 
Catholic Church, are, continually, employed in darkening, by 
falsehood, the true faith, and subverting all Christian piety. 4 
Number of The number of sponsors is also limited by the Council of 
Sponsors. Trent, to one male or female ; or at most, to one male and one 
female ; because a number of teachers may confuse the order 
of discipline and instruction ; and also to prevent the multiplica- 

Who are 
ble as 

1 Loco sup. cit. 64. 2 D. Aug. serm. 163. de temp, et ser. 215. 

z Serm. 165, de temp, de cons. dist. 4. c. 120. 

* 30 q. 1 cap. 1 D. Thorn, p. 3. q. 67. art. 8. ad 2. ex Mogunt. Concil. de consec 
dint. 4. cap. 102. 

/ On the Sacrarnent of Baptism. 123 

tion of affinities, which must impede a wider diffusion of society 
by means of lawful marriage. 1 

If the knowledge of what has been hitherto explained, be, as JJjJjJ ot 
it is, of importance to the faithful, it is no less important to them extends 
to know, that the law of baptism, as established by our Lord, to all. 
extends to all, in so much, that unless they are regenerated 
through the grace of baptism, be their parents Christians or in 
fidels, they are born to eternal misery and everlasting destruc. 
tion. The duty of the pastor, therefore, demands of him a fre 
quent exposition of these words of the Gospel : " Unless a man 
be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into 
the kingdom of God." 3 

That this law extends, not only to adults, but also to infants, 
and that the Church has received this its interpretation from 
Apostolic tradition, is confirmed by the authority and strength- I. 
ened by the concurrent testimony of the Fathers. Besides, it II. 
is not to be supposed, that Christ our Lord, would have with 
held the Sacrament of baptism, and the grace which it imparts 
from children, of whom he said : " Suffer the little children, 
and stay them not from coming unto me ; for the kingdom of 
heaven is for such" 3 from children whom he embraced upon 
whom he imposed hands whom he blessed. 4 Moreover, when III- 
we read that an entire family was baptized by St. Paul, 5 chil 
dren, who are included in their number, must, it is obvious, have 
also been cleansed in the purifying waters of baptism. Cir IV. 
cumcision, too, which was a figure of baptism, affords a strong 
argument in proof of this primitive practice. That children were 
circumcised on the eighth day is universally known. 8 If, then, 
circumcision, "made by hand, in despoiling of the body of the 
flesh," 7 was profitable to children, shall not baptism, which is 
the circumcision of Christ, not " made by hand," be also profi 
table to them ? Finally, to use the words of the Apostle, " if V 
by one man s offence, death reigned through one ; much more 
they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift, and of jus 
tice, shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ." 8 If, then, 
through the transgression of Adam, children inherit the stain of 
primeval guilt, is there not still stronger reason to conclude, that 
the efficacious merits of Christ the Lord must impart to them 
that justice and those graces, which will give them a title to 
reign in eternal life ? This happy consummation baptism alone 
can accomplish. 9 The pastor, therefore, will inculcate the ab- Moral re 
solute necessity of administering baptism to infants, and of gra- fiectlon - 

1 De cone. dist. 4. c. 101. et Concil. Trid. sess. 14. c. 10. de refor. Matrim. 

2 John iii. 5. De his vide Clem. pp. epist. 4. in med. Aug. in Joan, tract. 13. et t e 
Eccles. dogm. cap. 24. Amb. de iis qui myst. initiantur, c. 4. Concil Lateran. c. . . 
Trid. sess. 7. can. 51. 3 Matt. xix. 14. 4 Mark x. 16. 

5 1 Cor. i. 16. Acts xvi. 33. 6 Gen. xxi. 4. Lev. xii. 3. Luke i. 59 ; ii. 21 

7 Coloss. ii. 11. 8 Rom. y. 17. 

a Cone. Trid. sess. 5. decret, de peccato Origin, et sess. 7. de baptism, cap. 12 14 
Dkmys. de Eccles. Hier. cap. 7. Cyprian, ep. 59. Aug. epist. 28. et lib. de 1. peccat. 
merit, c. 23. Chrys. horn, de Adamo de Eva. Cone. Milevit, c. 2. et de consec. 
dist. 4 passim. 

124 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

dually forming their tender minds to piety, by Christian pre 
cept ; according to these admirable words of the Wiseman : " A 
young man according to his way, even when he is old, he will 
not depart from it." 1 

Faith, how That when baptized they receive the mysterious gifts of faith 
ttMnfante cannot be matter of doubt; not that they believe by the formal 
in baptism, assent of the mind, but because their incapacity is supplied by 
the faith of their parents, if the parents profess the true faith, 
if not, (to use the words of St. Augustine) "by that of the uni 
versal society of the saints ;" 2 for they are said with propriety 
to be presented for baptism by all those, to whom their initia 
tion in that sacred rite was a source of joy, and by whose cha 
rity they are united to the communion of the Holy Ghost. 
Children to The faithful are earnestly to be exhorted, to take care that 

be baptized t ^ e j r children be brought to the church, as soon as it can be 

with as lit- , . . 

tie delay as done with safety, to receive solemn baptism: infants, unless 

possible, baptized, cannot enter heaven, and hence we may well conceive 
how deep the enormity of their guilt, who, through negligence, 
suffer them to remain without the grace of the sacrament, long 
er than necessity may require ; particularly at an age so ten- 
Adults to der as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death. 3 With 
be invited re gard to adults who enjoy the perfect use of reason, persons, 
ed toTe-^" f r instance, born of infidel parents, the practice of the primitive 
ceive bap- Church points out a different manner of proceeding : to them 
tlsm - the Christian faith is to be proposed ; and they are earnestly 

II to be exhorted, allured, and invited to embrace it. If con 
verted to the Lord God, they are then to be admonished, not to 
defer baptism beyond the time prescribed by the Church : it is 
written, " delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it 
not from day to day ;" 4 and they are to be taught, that in their 
regard perfect conversion consists in regeneration by baptism. 
IH. Besides, the longer they defer baptism, the longer are they de 
prived of the use and graces of the other Sacraments, which 
fortify in the practice of the Christian religion, and which are 
IV. accessible through baptism only. They are also deprived of 
the inestimable graces of baptism, the salutary waters of which 
not only wash away all the stains of past sins, but also enrich 
the soul with divine grace, which enables the Christian to avoid 
sin for the future, and preserve the invaluable treasures of right 
eousness and innocence : effects which, confessedly, constitute 
a perfect epitome of a Christian life. 5 

Baptism of On this class of persons, however, the Church does not con- 
adults, why f er thjg Sacrament hastily : she will have it deferred for a cer- 
* er ][ e tain time ; nor is the delay attended with the same danger as 
in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned : and 
should any unforeseen accident deprive adults of baptism, thei.- 

i Prov. xxii. 6. 2 Ep. 23 ad Bon. 

3 Aug. lib. 3 de orig. anim. c. 9. et lib. 1. de pecc. merit, c. 2, et ep. 28. 

4 Eccl. v. 8. 

s Tertul. lib. de posnit. cap. 6. et de prescript, cap. 41. Cypr. epist. 13. de consec 
dist. 4. c. 64. et 65. Aug. lib. de fide et operib. c. 9. 

On the Sacrament of Baalism. 125 

intention of receiving it, and their repentance for past sins, will 
avail them to grace and righteousness. Nay, this delay seems II 
to be attended with some advantages. The Church must take 
particular care, that none approach this Sacrament, whose hearts 
are vitiated by hypocrisy and dissimulation ; and, by the inter 
vention of some delay, the intentions of such as solicit baptism, 
are better ascertained. In this wise precaution originated a de 
cree, passed by the ancient councils, the purport of which was, 
that Jewish converts, before admission to baptism, should spend 
some months in the ranks of the Catechumens. The candidate m. 
for baptism is, also, thus better instructed in the faith which he 
is to profess, and in the morality which he is to practise ; and 
the Sacrament, when administered with solemn ceremonies, on IV 
the appointed days of Easter and Pentecost only, is treated 
with more religious respect 

Sometimes, however, when there exists a just cause to ex- when not 
elude delay, as in the case of imminent danger of death, its ad- to be defer 
ministration is not to be deferred ; particularly, if the person to red- 
be baptized is well instructed in the mysteries of faith. This 
we find to have been done by Philip, and by the prince of the 
Apostles, when, without the intervention of any delay, the one 
baptized the Eunuch of queen Candaces, the other, Cornelius, 
as soon as they professed a willingness to embrace the faith 
of Christ. 1 The faithful are, also, to be instructed in the ne 
cessary dispositions for baptism, that, in the first place, they 
must desire and purpose to receive it ; for, as in baptism we die 
to sin and engage to live a new life, it is fit that it be adminis 
tered to those, only, who receive it of their own free will and 
accord, and is to be forced upon none. Hence, we learn from 
holy tradition, that it has been the invariable practice of the 
Church, to administer baptism to no individual, without previ 
ously asking him if he be willing to receive it. 3 This disposi 
tion even infants are presumed not to want the will of the 
Church, when answering for them, is declared in the most ex 
plicit terms. 

Insane persons, who are favoured with lucid intervals, and, Insane per- 
during these lucid intervals, express no wish to be baptized, are S0[ ^ hen 
not to be admitted to baptism, unless in extreme cases when tized amT 
death is apprehended. In such cases, if, previously to their in- when not. 
sanity, they give intimation of a wish to be baptized, the Sa 
crament is to be administered ; without such indication previ 
ously given, they are not to be admitted to baptism ; 3 and the 
same rule is to be followed with regard to persons in a state of 
lethargy. But if they never enjoyed the use of reason, the au 
thority and practice of the Church decide, that they are to be 
baptized in the faith of the Church, on the same principle that 
children are baptized, before they come to the use of reason. 

Acts viii. 38, and x. 48. 

2 Aug. lib, de poen. medi. c. 2. D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 63. $ 7. 
D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 86. ar. 12. 

126 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Three con- Besides a wish to be baptized, in order to obtain the grace 
quired in* ^ ^ e Sacrament, faith, for the same reason, is also necessary : 
adults, our Lord has said : " he that believes and is baptized shall be 
faith, com- saved." 1 Another necessary condition is compunction for past 
and C afirm sms an( l a fixed determination to refrain from their future corn- 
purpose of mission : should any one dare to approach the baptismal font, 
avoiding a 8 } ave t o vicious habits, he should be instantly repelled, for 
what so obstructive to the grace and virtue of baptism, as the 
obdurate impenitence of those who are resolved to persevere in 
the indulgence of their unhallowed passions ? Baptism should 
be sought with a view to put on Christ and to be united to him ; 
and it is, therefore, manifest that he who purposes to persevere 
in sin, should be repelled from the sacred font, particularly if 
we recollect that none of those things which belong to Christ 
and his Church, are to be received in vain, and that, as far as 
regards sanctifying and saving grace, baptism is received in 
vain by him who purposes to live according to the flesh, and 
not according to the spirit. 3 As far, however, as regards the 
validity of the Sacrament, if, when about to be baptized, the 
adult intends to receive what the Church administers, he no 
doubt, validly receives the Sacrament. Hence, to the vast mul 
titude, who, as the Scripture says, "being compunct in heart," 
asked him and the other Apostles what they should do, Peter 
answered: "Do penance and be baptized, every one of you;" 3 
and in another place : " Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, 
that your sins may be blotted out." 4 Writing to the Romans, 
St. Paul also clearly shows, that he who is baptized should en 
tirely die to sin ; and he therefore admonishes us , " not to yield 
our members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present 
ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead." 5 
Reflections Frequent reflection upon these truths cannot fail, in the first 
I- place, to fill the minds of the faithful with admiration of the in 
finite goodness of God, who, uninfluenced by any other conside 
ration than that of his own tender mercy, gratuitously bestow 
ed upon us, undeserving as we are, a blessing such as baptism 
II. a blessing so extraordinary, so divine! If, in the next place, 
they consider how spotless should be the lives of those, who 
have been made the objects of such singular munificence, they 
cannot fail to be convinced of the imperative obligation imposed 
upon them, to spend each day of their lives in such sanctity and 
religious fervour, as if it were that on which they had received 
the sacrament and were ennobled by the grace of baptism. To 
inflame their minds, however, with a zeal for true piety, the pas 
tor will find no means more efficacious than an accurate expo 
sition of the effects of baptism. 

Effects of As, then, these effects are to afford matter of frequent in- 

Baptism. gtruction, that the faithful may be rendered more sensible of 

the high dignity to which they are raised by baptism, and may 

never suffer themselves to be degraded from its elevation by the 

i Mark x vi 14. 2 j{ m. viii. 1. 3 Acts ii. 38. 4 Acts iii. 19. * Horn. vi. 13. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 127 

disguised artifices or open assaults of Satan, they are to be 
taught, in the first place, that such is the admirable efficacy of first effect 
this sacrament as to remit original sin, and actual guilt however 
enormous. This its transcendant efficacy was foretold long be 
fore by Ezekiel, through whom God said : " I will pour upon 
you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthi- 
ness." 1 The Apostle also, writing to the Corinthians, after hav 
ing enumerated a long catalogue of crimes, adds : " such you 
were, but you are washed, but you are sanctified." 3 That such 
was, at all times, the doctrine of the Catholic Church, is not 
matter of doubtful inquiry : " By the generation of the flesh," 
says St. Augustine, in his book on the baptism of infants, " we 
contract original sin only ; by the regeneration of the Spirit, 
we obtain forgiveness not only of original, but also of actual 
guilt." 3 St. Jerome, also, writing to Oceanus, says : " All sins 
are forgiven in baptism."* To obviate the possibility of doubt 
upon the subject, the Council of Trent, to the definitions of for 
mer Councils, has added its own distinct declaration, by pro 
nouncing anathema against *V)se, who should presume to think 
otherwise, or should dare I ,- assert " that although sin is for 
given in baptism, it is not entirely removed, or totally eradicat 
ed ; but is cut away in such a manner, as to leave its roots still 
firmly fixed in the soul." 5 To use the words of the same holy 
Council: " God hates nothing in those who are regenerated, 
for in those who are truly buried with Christ, by baptism, unto 
death, 6 who walk not according to the flesh, there is no con 
demnation : 7 putting of the old man, and putting on the new, 
whi-ch is created according to God, 8 they become innocent, 
spotless, innoxious, and beloved of God." 

That concupiscence, however, or the fuel of sin, still remains, Concu 
as the Council declares in the same place, must be acknow- p^cence 
ledged : fl but concupiscence does not constitute sin, for, as St. mains a^r 
Augustine observes, "in children, who have been baptized, the baptism, no 
guilt of concupiscence is removed, the concupiscence itself re- sin " 
mains for our probation ;" and in another place: " the guilt of 
concupiscence is pardoned in baptism, but its infirmity re 
mains." 10 Concupiscence is the effect of sin, and is nothing 
more than an appetite of the soul, in itself repugnant to reason. 
If unaccompanied with the consent of the will, or unattended 
with neglect on our part, it differs essentially from the nature 
of sin. This doctrine does not dissent from these words of St. 
Paul : " I did not know concupiscence, if the law did not say : 
thou shalt not covet. "" The apostle speaks not of the im 
portunity of concupiscence, but of the sinfulness of the interior 

Ezek. xxxvi. 25. 21 Cor. vi. 11. 

Lib. 1. de pec. merit, et remis. c. 15. Epist. 85. ante medium. 

$ Sess. 5. can. 5. 6 Rom. vi. 4. 

7 Rom. viii. 1. Eph. iv. 22. 24. 

9 De hoc effectu baptismi vide insuper Aug. lib. 1. contra duas ep. Pelag. c. 13. 
etl. 3. c. f>. in Enchir. c. 64. et lib. 1. de nupf. et concup. c. 25. iiem Greg. lib. 9 
ep. 39. Concil Vienn. et Flor in mater, de Sacrament. 

10 Aug. I. 2. de pec. mer. remiss, c. 4. " Rom. vii. 7. 

128 The CatecMsm of the Council of Trent. 

act of the will, in assenting to its solicitations. The same doc 
trine is taught by St. Gregory, when he says : " If there are any 
who assert that, in baptism, sin is but superficially effaced, 
what can savour more of infidelity than the assertion ? By the 
Sacrament of Baptism sin is utterly eradicated, and the soul ad 
heres entirely to God." 1 In proof of this doctrine he has re 
course to the testimony of our Lord himself, who says in St. 
John: "He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, 
but he is wholly clean." 3 

Figure of But should illustration be desired, an express figure and image 
baptism il- of the e ffi cac y O f baptism will be found in the history of the le- 
of to fort prosy of Naaman the Syrian, of whom the Scriptures inform us, 
effect. t na t when he had washed seven times in the waters of the Jordan, 
he was so cleansed from his leprosy, that his flesh became " like 
the flesh of a child." 3 The remission of all sin, original and 
actual, is therefore the peculiar effect of baptism. That this 
was the object of its institution by our Lord and Saviour, is a 
truth clearly deduced from the testimony of St. Peter, to say- 
nothing of the array of evidence that might be adduced from 
other sources : " Do penance," says he, " and be baptized every 
one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of 
your sins." 4 

Second ef- But in baptism, not only is sin forgiven, but with it all the 
feet of bap- punishment due to sin is remitted by a merciful God. To 
communicate the virtue of the passion of Christ is an effect 
common to all the Sacraments ; but of baptism alone does the 
Apostle say, that " by it we die and are buried together with 
Christ." 5 Hence the Church has uniformly taught, that to im 
pose those offices of piety, usually called by the Fathers works 
of satisfaction, on him, who is to be cleansed in the salutary 
waters of baptism, would be derogatory in the highest degree 
This doc- to the dignity of this Sacrament. 6 Nor is there any discre- 
SnsistenT" pancy between the doctrine here delivered and the practice of 
with the the primitive Church, which of old commanded the Jews, when 
practice of p re p ar i n g for baptism, to observe a fast of forty days. The fast 
mftive" ^ms imposed was not enjoined as a work of satisfaction : it was 
Church, a practical lesson of instruction to those who were to receive 
the Sacrament ; and one well calculated to impress upon their 
minds a deeper sense of the august dignity of a rite, of which 
they were not admitted to be participators, without devoting 
some time to the uninterrupted exercise of fasting and prayer. 
Baptism But, although the remission by baptism of the punishments 
gives no due to sin cannot be questioned, we are not hence to infer that 

i L. 9. Reg. epist. 39. 2 John xiii. 10. 3 4 Kings v. 14. 

4 Acts ii. 38. De concupiscentia remanente in baptizatis vide Aug. lib 1. de 
pec. merit, et remiss, c. 39. item lib. 1. contra duas Epist. Felag. c. 13. .lib. 3. c. 3. > 
in medio, et lib. 1. de nupt. et concup. c. 23. et 25. item lib. 6. contra Julian, q. 5. 
et de verb. Apost. serm. 6. 

5 Rom. vi. 3, 4. Col. ii. 12. 

6 Quod poence peccatis debite remittantur in baptismo, vide Ambros. in c. 11. ad 
Rom. Aug. 1. 1. de nupt et concupis. c. 33. et in Ench. c. 4 D. Thorn p. 3. q 69. 
art. 2. unde nee ulla est imponenda poenitentia. Greg. 1. 7. regist Lpisc 24. et 
habetur de consecrat. distinct. 4. cap. ne quod absit U. Inom. 3 p q. u. art o. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 120 

it gives the offender an exemption from undergoing the punish- exemption 
ments awarded by the civil laws to public delinquency that, from the 
for instance, it rescues from the hand ot justice the man who is of thTcivil 
legally condemned to forfeit his life to the violated laws of his law - 
country. We cannot, however, too highly commend the reli 
gion and piety of those princes, who, on some occasions, remit 
the sentence of the law, that the glory of God may be the more 
strikingly displayed in his Sacraments. Baptism also remits 
all the punishment due to original sin in the next life, and this 
it does through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. By bap 
tism, as we have already said, we die with Christ, " for if," 
says the Apostle, " we have been planted together in the like 
ness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his re 
surrection." 1 

Should it be asked why, after baptism, we are not exempt in These in- 
this life from these inconveniences, which flow from original f "- 
sin, and restored by the influence of this Sacrament to that state g^a" si 
of perfection, in which Adam, the father of the human race, why not 
was placed before his fall ; for this two principal reasons are TTTL 

* 1 1 / i 111 "V Duplisiu. 

assigned : the first, that we, who by baptism are united to, and 
become members of Christ s body, may not be more honoured 
than our head. As, therefore, Christ, our Lord, although clothed 
from his birth with the plenitude of grace and truth, was not 
divested of human infirmity, until, having suffered and died, he 
rose to the glory of immortality ; it cannot appear extraordinary, 
if the faithful, even after they have received the grace of justifi 
cation by baptism, are clothed with frail and perishable bodies ; 
that after having undergone many labours for the sake of Christ, 
and having closed their earthly career, they may be recalled to 
life, and found worthy to enjoy with him an eternity of bliss. 

The second reason why corporal infirmity, disease, sense of n 
pain, and motions of concupiscence, remain after baptism, is, 
that in them we may have the germs of virtue from which we 
shall hereafter receive a more abundant harvest of glory, and 
treasure up to ourselves more ample rewards. When, with 
patient resignation, we bear up against the trials of this life, 
and aided by the divine assistance, subject to the dominion of 
reason the rebellious desires of the heart, we may and ought to 
cherish an assured hope, that the time will come when, if with 
the Apostle we shall have " fought a good fight, finished the 
course, and kept the faith, the Lord, the just judge, will render 
to us, on that day, a crown of justice, which is laid up for us." 3 
Such seems to have been the divine economy with regard to An iliuo 
the children of Israel : God delivered them from the bondage Cation. 
of Egypt, having drowned Pharaoh and his host in the sea ; 3 
yet he did not conduct them immediately into the happy land 
of promise. He first tried them by a variety and multiplicity 
of sufferings ; and when he afterwards placed them in posses 
sion of the promised land, he expelled from their native terri- 

1 Rom. vi. 5 2 Tim. iv. 7. 


130 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

tories, the other inhabitants; whilst a few other nations, whom 
they could not exterminate, remained, that the people of God 
might never want occasions to exercise their warlike fortitude 
and valour. 1 

III. To these we may add another consideration, which is, that 

if to the heavenly gifts with which the soul is adorned in bap 
tism, were appended temporal advantages, we should have good 
reason to doubt whether many might not approach the baptis 
mal font, with a view to obtain such advantages in this life, 
rather than the glory to be hoped for in the next ; whereas the 
Christian should always propose to himself, not the delusive 
and uncertain things of this world, " which are seen," but the 
solid and eternal enjoyments of the next, " which are not seen." 3 
Baptism, This life, however, although full of misery, does not want its 
the source pl easures an d joys. To us, who by baptism are engrafted as 
ofhappi- f At f i i_ i i. 

ness to the branches on Christ, 3 what source of purer pleasure, what ob- 
Ohristiari, j e ct of nobler ambition, than, taking up our cross, to follow him 
as our l ea der, fatigued by no labour, retarded by no danger in 
pursuit of the rewards of our high vocation ; some to receive the 
laurel of virginity, others the crown of doctors and confessors, 
some the palm of martyrdom, others the honours appropriated 
to their respective virtues ? These splendid titles of exalted 
dignity none of us should receive, had we not contended in the 
race, and stood unconquered in the conflict. 

Third ef- But to return to the effects of baptism, the pastor will teach 
feet of bap- t ] lat? by virtue of this Sacrament, we are not only delivered 
from what are justly deemed the greatest of all evils, but are 
also enriched with invaluable goods. Our souls are replenished 
with divine grace, by which, rendered just and children of God 
we are made coheirs to the inheritance of eternal life ; for it in 
written, " he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved;" 4 
and the Apostle testifies, that the Church is cleansed, " by the 
laver of water, in the word of life." 5 But grace, according to 
the definition of the Council of Trent, a definition to which, 
under pain of anathema, we are bound to defer, not only remits 
sin, but is also a divine quality inherent in the soul, and, as it 
were a brilliant light that effaces all those stains which obscure 
the lustre of the soul, and invests it with increased brightness 
and beauty. 8 This is also a clear inference from the words of 
Scripture when it says, that grace is " poured forth," 7 and also 
when it calls grace, " the pledge" of the holy Ghost. 8 
Fourth ef- The progress of grace in the soul is also accompanied by a 
feet of bap- mogt gpiendij train of virtues ; and hence, when writing to 
Titus, the Apostle says : " He saved us by the laver of regene 
ration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poured 

i Judges hi. 1,2. 2 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. John xv. 2. 

Mark xvi. 16. * Ephes. v. 26. 

6 Sess. 6, 7, de justific. 7 Tit iii. 6. 

s Eph. i. 14. 2 Cor. i. 22, et v. 5. Quid sit gratia de qua hie vide August, lib. I. 
de pecoat. merit, et remiss, c. 10. item de spiritu et litera, c. 28, versus finem. Bern 
ard, serm. 1. in cocria domini. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 131 

forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour j" 1 
St. Augustine, in explanation of the words, "poured forth on 
us abundantly," says, "that is, for the remission of sins, and 
for abundance of virtues." 3 

By baptism we are also united to Christ, as members to their Fifth effect 
head : as, therefore, from the head proceeds the power by which of baptism, 
the different members of the body are impelled to the proper 
performance of their peculiar functions ; so from the fulness 
of Christ the Lord, are diffused divine grace and virtue through 
all those who are justified, qualifying them for the performance 
of all the offices of Christian piety. 3 

We are, it is true, supported by a powerful array of virtues. Difficulty. 
It should not, however, excite our surprise if we cannot, without f practis- 
much labour and difficulty undertake, or, at least, perform acts j^SX 
of piety, and of moral virtue. If this is so, it is not because the baptism, 
goodness of God has not bestowed on us the virtues from which whence il 
these actions emanate ; but because there remains, after bap- " b^com? 
tism, a severe conflict of the flesh against the spirit, 4 in which, bated, 
however, it would not become a Christian to be dispirited or 
grow faint. Relying on the divine goodness, we should confi 
dently hope, that by a constant habit of leading a holy life, the 
time will arrive, when " whatever things are modest/ whatever 
just, whatever holy," 5 will also prove easy and agreeable. Be 
these the subjects of our fond consideration ; be these the ob 
jects of our cheerful practice ; that " the God of peace may be 
with us." 8 

By baptism, moreover, we are sealed with a character that Sixth effect 
can never be effaced from the soul, of which, however, it were < ba ptism. 
here superfluous to speak at large, as in what we have already 
said on the subject, when treating of the Sacraments in general, 
the pastor will find sufficient matter on the subject, to which he 
may refer. 7 

But as from the nature and efficacy of this character, it has Baptism 
been defined by the Church, that this Sacrament is on no ac- not to be 
count to be reiterated, the pastor should frequently and diligently 
admonish the faithful on this subject, lest at any" time they may 
err on a matter of such moment. The doctrine which prohi 
bits the reiteration of baptism, is that of the Apostle, when he 
says : " One Lord, one faith, one baptism." 8 Again, when 
exhorting the Romans, that dead in Christ by baptism, they 
lose not the life which they received from him, he says: " In 

1 Tit. iii. 5, 6. 

2 /S 6 l\i e f ectuba J> ti8mi vide Chrysost. horn, ad Neoph. et haptis. Damas. lib. 2, 
de fide Orthod. c. 36. Lactant. lib. 3, Drvin. Instil, c. 25. Aug. Epist 23, ad Bonifac 
item lib. 1, de peccat. merit, et remiss, c. 29, Prosp. 1. 2, de vocat. Gent. c. 9. 

3 Quod per baptismum Christi capiti ut membra connectamur, vide August 
epist. 23, item lib. 1, de pec. meritis et remiss, c. 16. Prosp. de voc. Gent. Lie 9 
Bernard, serm. 1. in Ccena Dom. D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 69. art 5 

4 Gal. v. 17. 5 Ph.lip, iv. 8. 

6 2 Cor. xm. 11. Vide hac de re Aug. lib. v- contra Julian, c. 2, et 5. item de 
peccat. merit, et remiss, lib. 1. c. 3. 

7 Vide Aug lib. 6, contra Donatist. cap. 1. et in epist. Joan, tract 5. Trid. sess. 7. 
Eph. iv. 5. 


Not repeat 
ed, even 
when ad 

When to 
to be admi 

effect of 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

that Christ died to sin, he died once ;"* he seems clearly to 
signify that as Christ cannot die again, neither can we die again 
by baptism. Hence the Church openly professes that she be 
lieves " one baptism ;" and that this accords with the nature 
and object of the Sacrament appears from the very idea of bap 
tism,, which is a spiritual regeneration. As then, according to 
the laws of nature, we are born but once, and " our birth," as 
St. Augustine observes, " cannot be repeated," 3 so, in the su 
pernatural order, there is but one spiritual regeneration, and, 
therefore, baptism can never be administered a second time. 3 

Nor let it be supposed, that this Sacrament is repeated by the 
Church, when she admits to the baptismal font those of whose 
previous baptism reasonable doubts are entertained, making use 
of this form : " if thou art already baptized, I baptize thee not 
again ; but if thou are not already baptized, I baptize thee in 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost :" 
in such cases baptism is not to be considered as repeated (its 
repetition would be an impiety), but as holily, because condition 
ally administered. 

In this, however, the pastor should use particular precaution, 
in order to avoid certain abuses which are of almost daily oc 
currence, to the no small irreverence of this Sacrament. There 
are those who think that they commit no sin by the indiscrimi 
nate administration of conditional baptism : if a child is brought 
before them, they imagine that inquiry as to its previous bap 
tism is unnecessary, and accordingly proceed, without delay, to 
administer the Sacrament. Nay more, having ascertained that 
the child received private baptism, they hesitate not to repeat 
its administration conditionally, making use, at the same time, 
of the solemn ceremonies of the Church ! Such temerity in 
curs the guilt of sacrilege, and involves the minister in what 
theologians call an " irregularity." It has been authoritatively 
decided by pope Alexander, that the conditional form of bap 
tism is to be used only when, after due inquiry, doubts are en 
tertained of the validity of the previous baptism ; 4 and in no 
other case can it ever be lawful to administer baptism a second 
time, even conditionally. 5 

Besides the many other advantages which accrue to us from 
baptism, we may look upon it as the last, to which all the rest 
seem to be referred, that it opens to us the portals of Heaven, 
which sin had closed against our admission. All these effects, 
which are wrought in us by virtue of this Sacrament, are dis 
tinctly marked by the circumstances which, as the Gospel re 
lates, accompanied the baptism of our Saviour. The heavens 

i Rom. vi. 10. 2 In Joan, tract 11. 

3 Hac de re vide Trid. Sess. 7, de baptismo, can. 11. et 13. item Concil. Carlha. 
can. 1, Vien. ut habetur in Clem. 1. lib. de sum. Trinit. D. August, tract. 11. in 
Joan. Beda in capite 3, Joan. Leo Mag. epist. 37, et 39, D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 66, a. 9. 

4 Lib. 1 . Decretal, tit. de baptismo. c. de quidem. 

5 De irregularitate cujus hie est menlio, vid, apostat. et reit. baptism, c. ex litte- 
rarum, et de Conseci dist. 4. c. eos qui. et lib. 3. decretal, de baptismo et ejus ef- 
fectu. c. de quibus. 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 133 

were opened and the Holy Ghost appeared descending upon 
Christ our Lord, in form of a dove ; a by which we are given to 
understand, that to those who are baptized are imparted the gifts 
of the. Holy Spirit, that to them are unfolded the gates of Hea 
ven, opening to them an entrance into glory ; not, it is true, 
immediately after baptism, but in due season, when freed from 
the miseries of this life, which are incompatible with a state of 
bliss, they shall exchange a mortal for an immortal life. 

These are the fruits of baptism, which, as far as regards the Efficacy of 

efficacy of the Sacrament, are, no doubt, common to all ; but as the ^ iicra 
r J n , ,. . . . , , . . . .... ment com- 

tar as regards the dispositions with which it is received, it is mon to all. 

no less certain that all do not participate equally of these hea- not so its 
venly gifts and graces. |^ d 

It now remains to explain, clearly and concisely, what re- The pray- 
gards the prayers, rites, and ceremonies of this Sacrament. To ers.ntes, 
rites and ceremonies may, in some measure, be applied what Conies of 
the Apostle says of the gift of tongues, that it is unprofitable to baptism, to 
speak, unless he who hears understands. 2 They present an b *; ex P lam 
image, and convey the signification of the things that are done 
in the Sacrament; but if the people understand not their force 
and significancy, they can be of very little advantage to them. 
To make them understood, therefore, and to impress the minds 
of the faithful with a conviction that, although not of absolute 
necessity, they are of very great importance, and challenge 
great veneration, are matters which solicit the zeal and industry 
of the pastor. This, the authority of those by whom they were 
instituted, who were, no doubt, the Apostles, and also the ob 
ject of their institution, sufficiently prove. That ceremonies 
contribute to the more religious and holy administration of the 
Sacraments, serve to exhibit to the eyes of the beholder a lively 
picture of the exalted and inestimable gifts which they contain, 
and impress on the minds of the faithful a deeper sense of the 
boundless beneficence of God, are truths as obvious as they are 
unquestionable. 3 

But that in his expositions the pastor may follow a certain Reduced to 
order, and that the people may find it easier to recollect his in- threehcade 
structions, all the ceremonies and prayers which the Church 
uses in the administration of baptism, are to be reduced to three 
heads. The first comprehends such as are observed before 
coming to the baptismal font the second, such as are used at 
the font the third, those that immediately follow the adminis 
tration of the Sacrament. 

In the first place, then, the water to be used in baptism should I. 
be previously prepared : the baptismal water is consecrated with The water 
the oil of mystic unction ; and this cannot be done at all times, 
but, according to ancient usage, on the vigils of certain festivals, 
which are justly deemed the greatest and the most holy solem- 

i Matth. iii. 16. 2 ] Cor. xiv. 2. 

3 De eis ritibus vide Dion. cap. 2. de Eccles. Hier. Clem. Epist. 3. Tertul. lib. de 
corona milit. et de baptism, passim. Origen, horn. 12. in num. Cypr. Epist. 70. item 
vide de consece disk 4- 

134 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

nities in the year, and on which alone, except in cases of neces 
sity, it was the practice of the ancient Church to administer 
baptism. 1 But although the Church, on account of the dangers 
to which life is continually exposed, has deemed it expedient 
to change her discipline in this respect, she still observes with 
the greatest solemnity the festivals of Easter and Pentecost, on 
which the baptismal water is to be consecrated. 

The person After the consecration of the water, the other ceremonies that 
tized baP ~ P rece de baptism, are next to be explained. The person to be 
stands at baptized is brought or conducted to the door of the church, and 
the church j s forbidden to enter, as unworthy to be admitted into the house 
of God, until he has cast off the yoke of the most degrading 
servitude of Satan, devoted himself unreservedly to Christ, and 
pledged his fidelity to the just sovereignty of the Lord Jesus. 3 
Catecheti- The priest then asks what he demands of the Ch urch of God ; 
cahnstruc- an j nav j n g received the answer, he first instructs him catecheti- 
cally, in the doctrines of the Christian faith, of which a profes 
sion is to be made in baptism. 3 This practice of thus commu 
nicating instruction originated, no doubt, in the precept of our 
Lord, addressed to his Apostles : " Go ye into the whole world, 
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to ob 
serve all things whatsoever I have commanded you ;" 4 words 
from which we may learn that baptism is not to be administered 
until, at least, the principal truths of religion are explained. 
But as the catechetical form consists of question and answer; 
if the person to be instructed be an adult, he himself answers 
the interrogatories; if an infant, the sponsor answers according 
to the prescribed form, and enters into a solemn engagement 
for the child. 

The exor- The exorcism comes next in order : it consists of words of 
cism - sacred and religious import, and of prayers ; and is used to 

expel the devil, to weaken and crush his power. To the ex 
orcism are added other ceremonies, each of which, being mys- 
The salt, tical, has its clear and proper signification. 5 When, for in 
stance, salt is put into the mouth of the person to be baptized, 
it evidently imports, that by the doctrines of faith, and by the 
gift of grace, he shall be delivered from the corruption of sin, 
shall experience a relish for good works, and shall be nurtured 
The sign of with the food of divine wisdom. 6 Again, his forehead, eyes, 
th cross. b reas t ? shoulders, ears, are signed with the sign of the cross, to 
declare, that by the mystery of baptism, the senses of the per 
son baptized are opened and strengthened, to enable him to 

; Cypr epist, 70. item Basil, de Spiritu S. c. 27. et de consec. dist. 4. c. in Sabbato. 

2 Tertul. de corona milit. c. 3. Cyril. Hierosol. Catech. 8. 

3 Clem. Rom. epist. 3. Aug. de fide et oper. c. 9. 
< Mark xvi. 15. Matth. xxviii. 19, 20. 

5 De exorcismis vide Tertul. de prescript, c. 41. Cypr. epist. 2. Aug. lib. 2. de 
gratia Dei et peccat. orig. cap. 40. et lib. 2. de Nupt. et concupis. cap. 26. optat. lib. 
4. contra Parmenianum. 

6 Bed. in lib. Esdrae, c. 9. Isid. lib. 2. de offic. eccl. c. 20. et Aug. lib. 1. con 
fess, c. 11 

On the Sacrament of Baptism. 135 

receive God, and to understand and observe his commandments. 1 
His nostrils and ears are next touched with spittle, and he is The spittle. 
then immediately admitted to the baptismal font : by this cere 
mony we understand that, as sight was given to the blind man, 
mentioned in the Gospel, whom the Lord, having spread clay 
on his eyes, commanded to wash them in the waters of Siloe ;* 
so by the efficacy of holy baptism, a light is let in on the mind, 
which enables it to discern heavenly truth. 3 

After the performance of these ceremonies, the person to be n. 
baptized approaches the baptismal font, at which are performed 
other rites and ceremonies, which present a summary of the 
obligations imposed by the Christian religion. In three distinct 
interrogatories, he is formally asked by the minister of religion, 
" dost thou renounce Satan ?" " and all his works ?" " and all 
his pomps ?" to each of which he, or the sponsor in his name, 
replies in the affirmative. Whoever, then, purposes to enlist 
under the standard of Christ, must, first of all, enter into a sa 
cred and solemn engagement to renounce the devil and the 
world, and, as his worst enemies, to hold them in utter detes 
tation. 4 

He is next anointed with the oil of catechumens on the The oil of 
breast and between the shoulders on the breast, that by 
the gift of the Holy Ghost he may lay aside error and igno 
rance, and receive the true faith ; for " the just man liveth by 
faith" 5 on the shoulders, that by the grace of the Holy Spirit 
he may be enabled to shake off negligence and torpor, and en 
gage actively in the performance of good works ; for " faith 
without works is dead." 

Next, standing at the baptismal font, he is interrogated by Theprofes 
the minister of religion in these words : " Dost thou believe * 10 " f 
in God, the Father Almighty?" to which is answered; "I be- a 
lieve ;" a like interrogatory is proposed with regard to the other 
articles of the creed, successively ; and thus is made a solemn 
professiqn of faith. These two engagements, the renunciation 
of Satan and all his works and pomps, and the belief of all the 
articles of the creed, including, as they do, both faith and prac 
tice, constitute, it is clear, the whole force and discipline of the 
law of Christ. 7 

When baptism is now about to be administered, the priest Thewillof 
asks him if he will be baptized ; to which an answer in the affir- the person 
mative being given by him, or, if an infant, by the sponsor, the t ze j a ^P" 
priest performs the ablution, " in the name of the Father, and ed, and 
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." As man, by yielding the ^{^"j 
assent of hi-s will to the wicked suggestions of Satan, fell under baptism is 

% just sentence of condemnation; so God will have none en- administer 


1 De signo crucis vide Tertul. lib. de result, earn. Basil, lib. de spiritu Sancto 
Chrys. contra gentes et alios. 2 John ix. 7. 

3 De saliva Am. lib. 1. de sacram. 1. et de iis qui myst. init. c. 1. et de consecr 
distinct 4. c. postea. 

4 Tertul. lib. de coron. mil. c. 13. et de spectac.r 4. et de Idol. c. G.Cypr. epist. 7. 54. 
s Gal. iii. 11. 6 James ii. 26. 

< Cyril. Hier. Catech. 2 et 3. 



The oil of 

The white 

The burn 
ing light. 

The name, 
its utility, 
its selec 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

rolled in the number of his soldiers, but those whose service is 
voluntary ; that by a willing obedience to his commands they 
may obtain eternal salvation. 

After the person has been baptized, the priest anoints with 
chrism the crown of his head, thus giving him to understand, 
that from the moment of his baptism, he is united as a member 
to Christ, his head, and ingrafted on his body ; and that he is, 
therefore, called a Christian, from Christ, as Christ is so called 
from Chrism. What the Chrism signifies, the prayers offered 
by the priest, as St. Ambrose observes, sufficiently explain. 1 

On the person baptized the priest then puts a white garment, 
saying, " receive this white garment, which mayest thou carry 
unstained before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ ; 
that thou mayest have eternal life. Amen." Instead of a white 
garment, infants because not formally dressed, receive a white 
kerchief, accompanied with the same words. According to the 
doctrine of the Holy Fathers this symbol signifies the glory of 
the resurrection to which we are born by baptism, the bright 
ness and beauty with which the soul, when purified from the 
stains of sin, is invested, and the innocence and integrity which 
the person who has received baptism, should preserve through 
life. 3 

To signify that faith received in baptism, and inflamed by 
charity, is to be fed and augmented by the exercise of good 
works, a burning light is next put into his hand. 

Finally, a name is given, which should be taken from some 
person, whose eminent sanctity has given him a place in the 
catalogue of the Saints : this similarity of name will stimulate 
to the imitation of his virtues and the attainment of his holiness ; 
and we should hope and pray that he who is the model of our 
imitation, may also, by his advocacy, become the guardian of 
our safety and salvation. Hence we cannot mark in terms too 
strong, our disapprobation of the conduct of those who, with a 
perverse industry, search for, and whose delight it is to distin 
guish their children by, the names of heathens ; and what is 
still worse, of monsters of iniquity, who, by their profligate 
lives, have earned an infamous notoriety. By such conduct they 
practically prove, how little they regard a zeal for Christian piety, 
who so fondly cherish the memory of impious men, as to wish 
to have their profane names continually echo in the ears of the 

This exposition of baptism, if given by the pastor, will be 
found to embrace, almost every thing of importance, which re 
gards this Sacrament. We have explained the meaning of the 
word " baptism," its nature and substance, and also the parts of 
which it is composed we have said by whom it was instituted 

1 Lib. 1. de Sacram. Dionys. Eccl. Hierar. c. 3. Cyril. Hieros. Catech. 3. Basil 
lib. de Spiritu gancto, c. 27. 

2 Dionys. locd citato. Amb. de iis qui myst. init. c. 8. 

3 De hoc cereo vide Gregor. Nazian. serm. de bapt. Gregor. Turon. lib. 5. cap 
11. Niceph. inst. Eccle. lie. 3. c. 12. 

On the Sacrament of Confirmation. 137 

who are the ministers necessary to its administration who 
should be, as it were, the tutors, whose instructions should sus 
tain the weakness of the person baptized to whom baptism 
should be administered, and how they should be disposed what 
are the virtue and efficacy of the Sacrament. Finally, we have 
developed, at sufficient length for our purpose, the rites and cere 
monies that should accompany its administration. The pastor 
will recollect that all these instructions have principally for ob 
ject, to induce the faithful to direct their constant attention and 
solicitude to the fulfilment of the sacred and inviolable engage 
ments into which they entered at the baptismal font, and to lead 
lives not unworthy the sanctity of the name and profession of 


1 F ever there was a time that demanded the assiduity of the Urgent ne- 
pastor in explaining the Sacrament of Confirmation, it is doubt- cessity of 
less the present, when there are found in the Church of God the Sacra? 
many by whom it is altogether omitted ; whilst very few study ment of 
to derive from it the fruit of divine grace, which its worthy re- confi . rma - 
ception imparts. That this divine blessing, therefore, may not these days 
seem through their fault, and to the serious injury of their im 
mortal souls, to have been conferred in vain, the faithful are to 
be instructed, on Whitsunday, and on such other days as the 
pastor shall deem convenient, in the nature, efficacy, and dignity 
of this Sacrament ; so as to make them sensible that not only is 
it not to be neglected, but that it is to be approached with the 
greatest reverence and devotion. 

To begin therefore with its name, the pastor will inform the Why call 
faithful that this Sacrament is called Confirmation, because, if 
no obstacle is opposed to its efficacy, the person who receives 
it, when anointed with the sacred chrism by the hand of the 
bishop, who accompanies the unction with these words : " I 
sign thee with the sign of the cross, and confirm thee with the 
chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost," is confirmed in strength by receiving 
new virtue, and becomes a perfect soldier of Christ. 1 

That confirmation has all the conditions of a true Sacrament Cjnfiiroa- 
has been at all times, the doctrine of the Catholic Church, as tion a S*- 
Pope Melchiades, 3 and many other very holy and ancient pon- C1 
tiffs expressly declare. The truth of this doctrine St. Clement 
could not have confirmed in stronger terms than when he says . 
" All should hasten, without delay to be born again to God, and 
then to be sealed by the bishop, that is, to receive the seven-fold 

1 Cone. Aur. c. 3, item Flor. 

2 Epist. ad Episcop. Ilispau c 2. ep. 4, ante fmern. 

12* S 

138 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

gift of the Holy Ghost; for, as we have learned from St. Pe 
ter, and as the other Apostles taught in obedience to the com 
mand of our Lord, he who contumeliously and not from neces 
sity, but voluntarily neglects to receive this Sacrament, cannot 
possibly become a perfect Christian." 1 This same doctrine 
has been confirmed, as may be seen in their decrees, by the 
Urbans, the Fabians, the Eusebius s, pontiffs who, animated 
with the same spirit, shed their blood for the name of Christ. 
It is also fortified by the unanimous testimony of the Fathers, 
amongst whom Denis the Areopagite, bishop of Athens, teach 
ing how to consecrate and make use of the holy ointment, 
says : " The priest clothes the person baptized with a garment 
emblematic of his purity, in order to conduct him to the bishop ; 
and the bishop signing him with the holy and divine ointment, 
makes him partaker of the most holy communion." 3 Of such 
importance does Eusebius of Csesarea deem this Sacrament, 
that he hesitates not to say, that the heretic Novatus could not 
receive the Holy Ghost, because, having received baptism, he 
was not, when visited by severe illness, sealed with the sign of 
chrism. 3 On this subject we might adduce testimonies the 
most conclusive from St. Ambrose in his book on the Initiated, 4 
and from St. Augustine in his works against the epistles of the 
Donatist Petilian : so convinced were they, that no doubt could 
exist as to the reality of this Sacrament, that they not only 
taught the doctrine, but confirmed its truth by many passages 
of Scripture, the one applying to it these words of the Apostle : 
" Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed 
unto the day of redemption," 3 the other, these words of the 
Psalmist : " like the precious ointment on the head, that ran 
down upon the beard of Aaron," 8 and also these words of the 
same Apostle, " The charity of God is poured forth in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us." 7 

Confirma- Confirmation, although said by Melchiades to have a most in- 
tireVdiffe- tin iate connexion with baptism, 8 is yet an entirely different Sa- 
rent from crament : the diversity of the grace which each Sacrament con- 
baptism. f ers? an( ] the diversity of the external sign employed to signify 
that grace, obviously constitute them different Sacraments. As 
by the grace of baptism we are begotten to newness of life, and 
by that of confirmation grow to full maturity, " having put 
away the things of a child," 9 we can hence sufficiently compre 
hend that the same difference which exists in the natural order 
between birth and growth, exists also in the supernatural, be- 

1 Habes decreta horum Pontificum de consecrat dist. 5. 

2 S. Dionysius de Eccles. Hierar. c. 2. 3 Lib. 6. histor. cap. 43. 
4 Lib. de iis qui myst. initiantur. c. 7, lib. 2, c. 104. 

6 Eph. iv. 30. 6 Psalm cxxxii. 2. 

7 Rom. v. 5. Confirmationem esse sacramentum habes insuper ex Ambros. de 
Sacr. lib. 3, c. 2, lib. de Spiritu Sancto, c. 6 et 7, item Aug. de Trinit lib. 15, c. 26, et 
in epist. Joan tract 3 et 6, et in Psalmis 26, et ante hos omnes. Tertul. lib. de Re- 
surr. car. Cypr. epist 7. Origen, horn. 9, in Levit Hieron. contr. Lucif. Cyril 
Hieros. Catech. 3. 

Epist ad Episc. Ilisp. in med. 9 1 Cor. xii 11 

On the Sacrament of Confirmation. 139 

ween baptism which regenerates, and confirmation which im- 
jarts full growth and perfect spiritual strength. 

Again, if the new difficulties which the soul has to encoun- u. 
er, demand the aid of a new and distinct Sacrament, it is ob- 
dous that as we have occasion for the grace of baptism to stamp 
ipon the soul the impress of the true faith, so it is of the ut- 
nost advantage that a new grace fortify us with such intrepidity 
>f soul, that no danger, no dread of pains, tortures, death, have 
lower to deter us from the profession of the true faith. Hence, 
Pope Melchiades marks the difference between them with mi- 
lute accuracy in these terms : " In baptism," says he, " the 
Christian is enlisted into the service, in confirmation he is 
:quipped for battle ; at the baptismal font the Holy Ghost im- 
jarts the plenitude of innocence, in confirmation the perfection 
)f grace ; in baptism we are regenerated to life, after baptism 
we are fortified for the combat ; in baptism we are cleansed in 
:onfirmation we are strengthened ; regeneration saves by its 
)wn efficacy those who receive baptism in peace, confirmation 
irms and prepares for the conflict." 1 These are truths not only re- 
;orded by other Councils, but specially denned by the Council 
)f Trent, and we are therefore no longer at liberty not only to dis 
sent from, but even to entertain the least doubt regarding them. 3 

But, to impress the faithful with a deeper sense of the sane- Instituted 
ity of this Sacrament, the pastor will make known to them by by Cnnst - 
whom it was instituted ; a knowledge the importance of which 
h regard to all the Sacraments, we have already pointed out. 
:Ie will, accordingly, inform them that not only was it instituted 
jy our Lord Jesus Christ, but as St. Fabian Bishop of Rome 
estifies, the chrism and the words used in its administration 
were also appointed by him : a fact of easy proof to those who 
relieve confirmation to be a Sacrament, for all the sacred myste- 
ies are beyond the power of man, and could have been insti 
tuted by God alone. 3 

Of the component parts of the Sacrament, and, first, of its Its matter, 
matter, we now come to treat. The matter of confirmation is ^ lirism - 
chrism, a word borrowed from the Greek language, and which, 
although used by profane writers to designate any sort of oint- 
nent, is appropriated, by ecclesiastical usage, to signify ointment 
composed of oil and balsam, and solemnly consecrated by the 
piscopal benediction. A mixture of oil and balsam, therefore, 
constitutes the matter of confirmation ; and this mixture of dif- 
erent elements at once expresses the manifold graces of the 
Holy Ghost, and the excellence of this sacrament. That such 
s its matter the Church and her councils have uniformly taught ; 
and the same doctrine has been handed down to us by .St. De 
nis, and by many other fathers of authority too great to be ques 
tioned, particularly by Pope Fabian, 4 who testifies that the 
Apostles received the composition of chrism from our Lord, and 

1 Loco citato. 

2 Laod. can. 48, Meld. c. 6. Florent. et Constant. Trid. sess. 7. 

3 Epist. 2, initio. * Epist. 3. ad Kpisc. Orient 

140 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Propriety transmitted it to us. 1 To declare the effects of Confirmation, 
as^tTraat- no sacramenta l matter could have been more appropriate than 
ter. chrism : oil, by its nature unctuous and fluid, expresses the pie 

nitude of divine grace which flows from Christ the head, througn 
the Holy Ghost, and is poured out, " like the precious oint 
ment on the head, that ran down upon the beard of Aaron, to 
the skirt of his garment;" 2 for "God anointed him withtheoil of 
gladness, above his fellows," 3 and " of his fulness we all have 
received." 4 Balsam, too, the odour of which is most grateful, 
signifies that the faithful, made perfect by the grace of Confirm 
ation, diffuse around them, by reason of their many virtues, such 
a sweet odour that they may truly say with the Apostle ; " We 
are the good odour of Christ unto God." 5 Balsam has also the 
quality of preserving incorrupt whatever it embalms ; a quality 
well adapted to express the virtue of this Sacrament; prepared 
by the heavenly grace infused in Confirmation, the souls of the 
faithful may be easily preserved from the corruption of sin. 
Chrism, The chrism is consecrated with solemn ceremonies, by the 

crated^aml bishop. That this its solemn consecration is in accordance with 
by bishops the instructions of our Lord, when at his last supper he cora- 
onl y- mitted to his Apostles the manner of making chrism, we learn 

from Pope Fabian, a man eminently distinguished by his sanc 
tity, and by the glory of martyrdom. 8 Indeed, reason alone 
demonstrates the propriety of this consecration ; for in most of 
the other sacraments, Christ so instituted the matter as to im 
part to it holiness ; it was not only his will that water should 
constitute the matter of the Sacrament of Baptism, when he 
said : " Unless a man- be born again of water and the Holy 
Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God ;" 7 but he also, at 
his own baptism, imparted to it the power of sanctifying ; 
"The water of baptism," says St. Chrysostome, " had it not 
been sanctified by contact with the body of our Lord, could not 
cleanse the sins of believers." 8 As, therefore, our Lord did not 
consecrate by using the matter of confirmation, it becomes ne 
cessary to consecrate it by holy and devout prayer, which is the 
exclusive prerogative of bishops, who are constituted the ordi 
nary ministers of this Sacrament. 

Form of The other component part of this Sacrament, that is to say, 
menurf ~ * ts f rm > comes next to be explained. The faithful are to be 
Confirma- admonished that when receiving Confirmation, they are, on 
don. hearing the words pronounced by the bishop, earnestly to ex 

cite themselves to sentiments of piety, faith, and devotion, that 
on their part no obstacle may be opposed to the heavenly grace 
of the Sacrament. The form of Confirmation consists of these 

1 Vid. Aug. in Ps. 44. vers. 9. et lib. 13. de Trinit. cap. 26. Greg, in 1. cap. can. 
Cone. Laod. cap, 48. et Carth. 2 c. 2. et3. c. 39. Dionys. de Eccl. Hierar. c. 2. et 4 
De oleo vide Ambr. in Ps. 118 et lib. de Spiritu Sancto, cap. 3. Cyprian Epist 70 

2 Ps. cxxxii. 2. s Ps. xliv. 8. 4 John i. 16. s 2 Cor. ii. 15. 
6 S. Fab. papa, uti supra. 7 John iii. 5. 

8 Horn. 4. oper. imperf. et habetur de consec. disk 4. c. Nunquid. 

On the Sacrament of Confirmation. 141 

Were we to acknowledge the incompetency of reason to esta 
blish the truth and strict propriety of this form, the authority 
of the Catholic Church, by which it has been at all times taught 
and recognised, would alone be sufficient to dispel all doubt on 
the subject: judging of it, however, by the standard of reason, 
we arrive at the same conclusion. The form of the Sacrament 
should embrace whatever is necessary to explain its nature and 
substance ; with regard to the nature and substance of Con 
firmation, there are three things that demand particular atten 
tion, the divine power, which, as a primary cause, operates in 
the Sacrament ; the spiritual strength which it imparts to the 
faithful unto salvation ; and lastly, the sign impressed on him 
who is to engage in the warfare of Christ. The words " in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," 
with which the form closes, sufficiently declare the first ; the 
second is comprised in the words, " I confirm thee with the 
chrism of salvation ; and the words, " I sign thee with the sign 
of the cross," with which the form opens, convey the third. 

To whom principally, is intrusted the administration of this The bishop 
Sacrament, is a matter to which the pastor will also call the at- r ordinary 
tention of the faithful. There are many, according to the pro- <IUS 
phet, who run and yet are not sent; and hence the necessity of 
informing the faithful who are its true and legitimate ministers, 
in order that they may really receive the Sacrament and grace 
of Confirmation. 1 That bishops alone are the ordinary minis 
ters of this sacrament, is the doctrine of Scripture ; we read in 
the Acts of the Apostles, that when Samaria had received the 
Gospel, Peter and John were sent to them and prayed for them, 
lhat they might receive the Holy Ghost ; " for he was not yet 
come upon any of them, but they were only baptized, in the 
name of the Lord Jesus." 3 Here we find that he who admi 
nistered baptism, having only attained the degree of deacon, 
had no power to administer confirmation ; its administration was 
reserved to a more elevated order of the ministry, that is, to the 
Apostles alone. Whenever the sacred Scriptures speak of this 
Sacrament, they convey to us the same truth. We have also 
the clearest testimony of the Fathers, and, as may be seen in 
the decrees of their Popes, of Urban, of Eusebius, of Damasus, 
of Innocent, and of Leo. In confirmation of the same doctrine, 
we may also add that St. Augustine loudly complains of the cor 
rupt practice which prevailed in the Churches of Egypt and 
Alexandria in his day, a practice according to which priests 
presumed to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation." 3 

1 Trid. Sess. 23. c. 4. et can. 7. 2 Acts viii, 14. 16. 

3 Episcopum ministrum esse ordinarium Confirmationis tradunt Urbanus Papa 
Epist. ad omnes Christianos in fine ; Eusebius Papa Epist. 3. ad Episcop. Tusciee 
et Campaniee Damasus Papa, Epist, 4. ad Pros, et easterns Episc. Orthod. circa 
med. Innocentius Papa Epist. 1. ad Veren. c. 3. Leo Papa Epist. 88. ad German 
et Gallic. Episc. Melchiades Papa, Epist, ad Episc. Hispaniae. Clemens item Papa, 


of restrict 
ing Confir 
mation to 

A sponsor 
and why. 

quent affi 

The faith 
ful to be in 
etructed in 
the age and 
for Confir 

tion insti 
tuted for 
the use of 
all the 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

To illustrate the propriety of restricting the exercise of this 
function to the episcopal office, the following comparison may 
be found not inappropriate. As in the construction of an edifies, 
the artisans, who are inferior agents, prepare and dispose mor 
tar, lime, timber, and the other materials ; whilst, however, the 
completion of the work belongs to the architect; so in like man 
ner should Confirmation, which is as it were the completion of 
the spiritual edifice, be administered by no other than episcopal 

In Confirmation, as in Baptism, a sponsor is required. If 
the gladiator who presents himself as a combatant, has occa 
sion for the skill and address of a master, to direct him by what 
thrusts and passes he may, without endangering his own safety, 
despatch his antagonist, how much more necessary to the faith 
ful is a guide and instructer, when, sheathed as it were in the 
panoply of this sacrament, they engage in the spiritual conflict, 
in which eternal salvation is to reward the success of the victor. 
Sponsors therefore are, with great propriety, required in the ad 
ministration of this Sacrament also ; and the same affinity 
which, as we have already shown, is contracted in Baptism, 
impeding the lawful manage of the parties, is also contracted 
in Confirmation. 1 

To pass over in silence those who have arrived at such a 
degree of impiety, as to have the hardihood to contemn and 
despise this Sacrament ; since in receiving Confirmation it fre 
quently happens, that the faithful betray inconsiderate precipi- 
*tion or unpardonable neglect, it is the duty of the pastor to 
make known the age and dispositions which its sanctity de 

They are, in the first place, to be informed that this Sacra 
ment is not essential to salvation ; but that although not essen 
tial, it is not therefore to be omitted : on the contrary, in a mat 
ter so holy, through which the gifts of God are so liberally 
bestowed, the greatest care should be taken to avoid all neglect ; 
and what God proposed for the common sanctification of all, all 
should desire with intense earnestness. 8 Describing this admira 
ble effusion of the Holy Spirit, St. Luke says : " And suddenly 
there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and 
it filled the whole house, where they were sitting:" and a little 
after, " and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." 3 From 
these words we may infer, that as the house in which they were 
assembled, was a type and figure of the church, the Sacrament 
of Confirmation, which had its existence for the first time on 
that day, is intended for the use of all the faithful. This is also 
an easy inference from the nature of the Sacrament: Confir- 

Epist 4. Concil Wormaciense, c. 8. et Florent de Sacram. Horum summorum 
Pontificum Epist. habentur in tomis Conciliorum fere omnes in primo juxta cujus- 
que fEtatem. Vide insuper August, in qusest. novi Testam. quacsL 42. 

1 Trid. Sess. 24. c. 2. de reform, matrim. 

2 De consec. dist 5. c. 2. et 3. item Cone. Aurel. c. 3. Hugo de sanct Viet, de 
Sncram. lib. 2. f 7. c. 39 3 Acts ii. 2. 4. 

On the Sacrament of Confirmation. 143 

mation is necessary for those who have occasion for spiritual 
increase, and hope to arrive at religious perfection ; but to this 
all should aspire, for as Nature intends that all her children 
should grow up and reach full maturity, although her wishes 
are not always realized ; so it is the earnest desire of the Ca 
tholic Church, the common mother of all, that those whom she 
has regenerated by Baptism, may be brought to perfect matu 
rity in Christ. This happy consummation can be accomplished 
only through the mystic unction of Confirmation ; and hence 
it is clear, that this Sacrament is equally intended for all the 

It is to be observed, that the Sacrament of Confirmation may The proper 
be administered to all, as soon as they have been baptized ; but, a s e fo r ito 
until children shall have reached the use of reason, its adminis 
tration is inexpedient. If not postponed to the age of twelve, 
it should therefore be deferred until at least that of seven. Con 
firmation has not been instituted as necessary to salvation ; but 
to enable us to be armed and prepared, whenever we may be 
called upon, to fight for the faith of Christ ; and for this con 
flict no one will consider children, not yet arrived at the use of 
reason, fit subjects. 

From what has been said, it follows, that persons of mature Disposi- 
years who are to be confirmed, must, if they hope to receive t ons. for ra 
the grace of this Sacrament, not only bring with them faith and wdrth-fy 
devotion, but also be pierced with heartfelt compunction for the 
grievous sins into which they may have had the misfortune to 
fall. The pastor, therefore, will labour to induce them to have 
previous recourse to the tribunal of penance, will endeavour to 
excite them to fasting and other exercises of devotion, and will 
exhort them to the revival of that laudable practice of the ancient 
Church, of receiving the Sacrament of confirmation fasting. 1 
To induce the faithful to enter into these dispositions would 
appear no difficult task, if they but learn to appreciate the bless- 
mgs and extraordinary effects which flow from this Sacrament. 

The pastor therefore will teach, that in common with the Effects of 
other sacraments, Confirmation, unless some obstacle be op- confirnia - 
posed by the receiver, imparts new grace. We have already " j. 
shown, that it is the property of these sacred and mystic signs, 
at once to indicate and produce grace ; and as we cannot ima 
gine grace and sin to coexist in the soul, it follows, as a neces 
sary consequence, that it also remits sin. 

Besides these properties, common alike to this and the other II 
Sacraments, it is the peculiar characteristic of confirmation to 
perfect the grace of baptism : those who are initiated into the 
Christian religion, share, as it were, the tenderness and infirmity 
of new-born infants ; but they afterwards gather strength from 
the Sacrament of chrism, to combat the assaults of the world, 
the flesh, and the devil, and are confirmed in faith to confess 
and glorify the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. From this last 

1 D. Th. p. 3. q. 72. a. ad. 2 Cone. Aur. c. 2. 

144 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

mentioned circumstance it arose, no doubt, that the Sacrament 
An error was distinguished by the name of confirmation. This its name 
refuted. i s no t, as some with equal ignorance and impiety have imagin 
ed, derived from the supposed circumstance of baptized persons, 
when grown to maturity, formerly presenting themselves before 
the bishop to confirm their adherence to the faith of Christ, 
which they had embraced in baptism ; an opinion, according 
to which, confirmation would not seem to differ from cateche 
tical instruction. Of such a practice no proof can be adduced, 
no vestige traced ; and this sacrament is called Confirmation, 
because by virtue of it, God confirms in us what was com 
menced in baptism, and conducts to the perfection of solid 
Christian virtue. 1 

III. Not only does this Sacrament confirm ; it also increases di 

vine grace in the soul : "The Holy Ghost," says Melchiades, 
" who descends with salutary influence on the waters of bap 
tism, imparts the plenitude of grace to innocence : in confirma 
tion, the same Holy Ghost gives an increase of divine grace, 
and not only an increase, but an increase after a wonderful man 
ner. 3 This extraordinary efficacy of confirmation, the Scrip 
tures beautifully express by a metaphor : " stay you in the 
city," says our Lord speaking of this Sacrament, " until you be 
indued with power from on high." 3 

.is efficacy To show the divine efficacy of this Sacrament, (and this, no 
illustrated, doubt, will have great influence on the minds of the faithful) 
the pastor has only occasion to explain the effects which it pro 
duced on the Apostles themselves. Before, and even at the 
very time of the passion, so weak and listless were they, that 
no sooner was our Lord apprehended, than they all fled ; 4 and 
Peter, who was destined to be the rock and foundation of the 
Church, and who had displayed an unshaken constancy, and 
an intrepid spirit to be dismayed by the appearance of no dan 
ger, 5 was so terrified at the voice of one weak woman, as to 
deny once, and again, and a third time, that he was a disciple 
of Jesus Christ. 8 Even after the resurrection they remained, 
through fear of the Jews, shut up in a house, the doors being 
closed. 7 But how extraordinary the revolution ! On the day 
of Pentecost, filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost, they fear 
lessly, and in defiance of all danger, proclaim the Gospel, not 
only through Judea, but throughout the world ; 8 they deem it 
the greatest happiness, to be thought worthy to suffer contumely, 
chains, tortures, and crucifixion itself, for the name of Christ. 9 
IV Confirmation has also the effect of impressing a character ; 

and hence, as we said before, with regard to baptism, and as 
will be more fully explained in its proper place, with regard to 

Trid. Sess. 7. can. 1 de confir. 

2 De cons. dist. 5 c. Spiritus. Euseb. Emis. horn, in die Pent. 

3 Luke xxiv. 49. 4 Matth. xxvi. 56. 

s Matth. xvi. 1826. 51. 6 Matth. xxvi. 70. i2. 74. 

7 John xx. 19. SActsii.1. 

9 Acts v. 41. 

On the Sacrament of Confirmation. 145 

orders, it is on no account to be administered a second time. 
If these things are frequently and accurately explained, it is al 
most impossible that the faithful, knowing the utility and dig 
nity of this Sacrament, should not use every exertion to receive 
it with piety and devotion. 1 

The rites and ceremonies used in the administration of this Itsritesand 
Sacrament, now remain lightly to be glanced at : the advantages of ceremonies 
this explanation the pastor will at once see, by reverting to what exp ai 
we have already said on this subject, in its proper place. The Unction of 
forehead of the person to be confirmed is anointed with sacred the fore - 
chrism ; for in this Sacrament the Holy Spirit pours himself 
into the souls of the faithful, and imparts to them increased 
strength and courage, to enable them in the spiritual contest, to 
fight manfully, and to resist successfully their most implacable 
foes. They are therefore told, that henceforward, they are not 
to be deterred by fear or shame, feelings of which the counte 
nance is the principal index, from the open confession of the 
name of Christ. 9 Besides, the mark by which the Christian is sign of u>e 
distinguished from all others, as the soldier is distinguished by cross - 
his peculiar military badges, should be impressed on the fore 
head, the most dignified and conspicuous part of the human 

The festival of Pentecost was also chosen for its solemn ad- Whyadmi- 
ministration, because the Apostles were then strengthened and nisteredat 
confirmed by the power of the Holy Ghost ; 3 and also to remind 
the faithful, by the recollection of that supernatural event, of 
the number and magnitude of the mysteries contained in that 
sacred unction. 

The person, when confirmed, receives a gentle slap on the The gentle 
cheek from the hand of the bishop, to remind him, that as a sl ^P " n the 
courageous champion, he should be prepared to brave with un- 
conquered resolution, all adversities for the name of Christ. 

Finally, he receives the kiss of peace, to give him to under- The kiss of 
stand that he has been blessed with the fulness of divine grace, V eacc - 
and with that "peace which surpasseth all understanding."* 
These things will be found to contain a summary of the expo 
sition to be given by the pastor on the Sacrament of confirma 
tion ; but let them be delivered, not so much in the cold language 
of formal instruction, as in the burning accents of fervent piety ; 
so as to penetrate into the minds, arid inflame the hearts of the 

1 Confirmationem non esse iterandam, vide de Consec. dist. 5. c. dictum est, ot 
cap. de horn. D. Thorn, p. 3. q. 72. art. 5. 

2 Rhaban. lib. 1. de itistiL cleric, c. 30. et habetur de consec. dist. 5, c. noviss 
Aug. in Ps. 141, D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 71. art. 9. 

3 Acts ii. 2. i Phil. iv. 7. 

13 T 


The Catechism of the Council of Tent. 


Dignity of 
the Eucha 
rist, matter 
of frequent 
to deter 
from its 

Its institu 

Why call 
ed " the 

OF all the sacred mysteries bequeathed to us by our Lord, as 
unfailing sources of grace, there is none that can be compared 
to the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist ; for no crime, 
therefore, is there reserved by God a more terrible vengeance 
than for the sacrilegious abuse of this adorable Sacrament, 
which is replete with holiness itself. 1 The Apostle, illumined 
with wisdom from above, clearly saw and emphatically an 
nounced these awful consequences, when having declared the 
enormity of their guilt, " who discern not the body of the Lord," 
he immediately added, " therefore are there many infirm and 
weak among you, and many sleep." 3 That the faithful, there 
fore, deeply impressed with the divine honour due to this hea 
venly Sacrament, may derive from its participation, abundant 
fruit of grace, and escape the just anger of God, the pastor will 
explain with indefatigable diligence, all those things which 
seem best calculated to display its majesty. 

Following the example of St. Paul, who declares to the Co 
rinthians what he had received from the Lord, the pastor will 
begin by explaining to the faithful the circumstances of its insti 
tution : these he will find thus clearly recorded by the Evange 
list our Lord, who "having loved his own, loved them to the 
end," 3 to give them some admirable and divine pledge of this 
his love, aware that the hour was come when he should pass 
out of this world to the Father, by an effect of wisdom which 
transcends the order of nature, devised a means of being always 
present with his own. Having celebrated the feast of the pas 
chal lamb with his disciples, that the figure might give way to 
the reality, the shadow to the substance, " Jesus took bread, 
and giving thanks to God, blessed and brake, and gave to his 
disciples, and said, take ye and eat : This is my body, which 
shall be delivered for you : this do for the commemoration of 
me : and taking the chalice also after he had supped, he said, 
this chalice is the New Testament in my blood : this do, as 
often as you shall drink it in commemoration of me." 4 

Satisfied that language could supply no one word sufficiently 

comprehensive to give full expression to the dignity and excel- 

" lence of this Sacrament, sacred writers have endeavoured to 

express it by a variety of appellations. It is sometimes called 

" The Eucharist," a word which may be translated, " the good 

grace," or " the thanksgiving :" the propriety of the one appears 

from two considerations : the Eucharist gives a foretaste of eter- 

1 Dionys. de Eccl. Hier. c. 6. et de consec. dist. c. 2. nihil in. 

2 j Q, r x j 30 3 John xiii. 1. 

4 Matth. xxvi.2G. Mark xiv. 22. Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 24. De Euch, insti 
tutione vide Trid. Sess. 13, c. 2, de Euch. Leo serm. 7, de Pass. c. 3, Luseb. Emiss 
bom. 4, ct habetur de consec. dist 2. 1. quin corpus. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 147 

rial life, of which it is written : " The grace of God is life ever 
lasting:" 1 it also contains Christ our Lord, the true grace, and 
the source of all heavenly gifts. The other translation is no less 
appropriate, for when we offer this most spotless victim, we 
render to God a homage of infinite value, in return for all the 
benefits which we have received from his bounty, particu 
larly for the inestimable treasure of grace bestowed on us 
in this Sacrament. The word " thanksgiving," also accords 
with the conduct of our Lord, when instituting this mystery : 
"Taking bread, he brake it, and gave thanks"* David too, 
contemplating the grandeur of this mystery, says, " He hath 
made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful 
and gracious Lord : he hath given food to them that fear him ;" 3 
but he had premised these words of thanksgiving : " His work 
is praise and magnificence." 4 

It is also frequently called "The Sacrifice," of which we The Eu- 
shall treat more at large in the subsequent part of this exposi- charist de- 
tion. It is also called " Communion," a word borrowed from bfmh er 
the Apostle, when he says : " The chalice of benediction which appella- 
we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? tio . s : ,", pa " 
And the bread which we break, is it not the participation of the 
body of the Lord ?" 5 " This Sacrament," to use the words of nion." 
Damascene, " unites us to Christ, and renders us partakers of 
his flesh, and of his divinity, reconciles us to each other in the 
same Christ, and consolidates us as it were into one body." 6 
Hence it is also called the Sacrament of peace and charity; "TheSa- 
giving us to understand how unworthy the name of Christians ment of 
are they who indulge in enmity ; and that hatred, discord, and charity, 
strife are to be banished the society of the faithful, as their 
worst enemies ; an obligation which becomes still more impera 
tive when we reflect that in the daily oblation of the sacred 
mysteries, we profess to study with watchful solicitude, to pre 
serve peace and charity inviolate. Sacred writers also frequently 
call it " The Viaticum," as well because it is the spiritual food 
by which we are supported during our mortal pilgrimage : as Cl 
also, because it prepares for us a passage to eternal happiness 
and everlasting glory. Hence, in accordance with the ancient 
practice of the Church, none of the faithful are suffered to de 
part this life without being previously fortified with this living 
bread from heaven. The name of "The Supper," has also "The Sup- 
been sometimes given to this Sacrament by the most ancient rei> " 
Fathers, in imitation of the Apostle, 7 because it was instituted 

1 Rom. vi. 23. 

2 Mark xxvi. 26. xiv. 22. Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi 24. 

3 Psalm ex. 4, 5. 

4 Psalm ex. 3. Chrysost. horn. 24 in 1 ad Cor. ad heec verba, Calix benedic- 
tionis. Cypr. lib. de lapsis. Ambr. lib. 5. de Sacr. c. 3. D. Th. p. 3, q. 73, a. 4. 

s 1 Cor. r. 16. 

6 Damasc. lib. 4. de fid. orthod. c. 4. Vid. Iren. lib. 5, c. 7, Chrys. horn. 44 et 45 
in Joan. Cyrill. in lib. 7. in Joan. c. 13. Cyrill. Hier. Catech. 4, Aug. Tract. 26, in 
Joan. Trid. se.5S. 13. de Euchar. in proef Concil. Nicoen. 21, Cart 4, c. 77 er 26, q 
6, passim. 1 1 Cor. xi. 20. 

148 TJie Catuhism of the Council of Trent. 

The En- by our Lord at the saving mystery of The Last Supper. 1 This 
circumstance, which regards the time of its institution, does not 

orated and however, justify the inference that the Eucharist is to be con- 

rereived, secrated or received by persons not fasting : the salutary prac- 
Ing tice of consecrating and receiving it fasting, introduced, as an 
cient writers record, by the Apostles, has always been observed 
in the Church. 3 

A Sacra- Having thus premised an explanation of the names by which 
this Sacrament is distinguished, the pastor will teach that it has 
all the qualities of a true Sacrament, and is one of the seven 
which have been at all times recognised and revered by the 
Catholic Church. Immediately after the consecration of the 
chalice, it is called "a mystery of faith ;" and to omit an almost 
innumerable host of sacred writers, vouchers of the same doc 
trine, that the holy Eucharist is a Sacrament is demonstrated by 
the very nature of a Sacrament. It has sensible and outward 
signs : it signifies and produces grace in the soul ; and all doubt 
as to its institution by Christ is removed by the Apostle and the 
Evangelists. These circumstances, combining as they do to 
establish the truth of the Sacrament, supersede the necessity of 
pressing the matter by further argument. 3 

The name ^hat in the Eucharist there are many things to which sacred 

of Sacra- . . . . J B /. -, 

ment, giv- writers have occasionally given the name ol Sacrament, the 

en to many pastor will particularly observe: sometimes its consecration, 

h^Eucha- somet mes i ts reception, frequently the body and blood of our 

rist, strictly Lord which are contained in it, are called the Sacrament; be- 

<ipplies to cause, as s^ Augustine observes, this Sacrament consists of two 

only. P things, the visible species of the elements, and the invisible flesh 

and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 We also say that this 

Sacrament is to be adored, 5 meaning of course, the body and 

blood of our Lord. But all these, it is obvious, obtain the name 

of Sacrament in its less strict sense : the species of bread and 

wine, strictly speaking, constitute the Sacrament. 

The Eu- The great points of difference between this and the other Sa- 
charist dif- craments are easily understood ; the other Sacraments are per- 
the* other f ecte d by the use of their matter, that is, by their administra- 
Sacra- tion ; baptism, for instance, becomes a Sacrament when the ab- 
ments, lution has been performed : the Eucharist is constituted a Sa 
crament by the sole consecration of the elements, and when pre 
served in a pyxis, or deposited in a tabernacle, under either 
II. species, it ceases not to be a Sacrament. In the material ele 
ments of which the other Sacraments are composed, no change 
takes place ; in baptism, for instance, the water, in confirma 
tion, the chrism, lose not in their administration, the nature of 
water and of oil ; whilst in the Eucharist, that which before 

1 Cypr. de coma. Domini. 2 Aug. Epist. 188, c. 6. 

3 Aug. lib. 3. de Trinit. cap. 4, et 1. 20, contra Faust, cap. 13, Ambr. lib. 1. de 
sacrara. cap. 2. Trid. sess. 13. de Euch. c. 5. D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 73. art. 1. 

4 De Catec. erud. lib. 5. c. 16. August, hie ad sensum potius quam ad verba ci- 
latus ; sed lege hac de materia librum Lanfranci contra Berengarium : constat. 
23, tantum capitibus : vide de consecr. dist. 2. lere tola. 

5 Trid. sess. 15, de Euch. cap. 5. et can. 6. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 149 

consecration was bread and wine, becomes, after consecration, 
really and substantially the body and blood of our Lord. 

But although in the Eucharist the sacramental matter consists TheSacra- 
of two elements, that is, of bread and wine, yet, guided by the m ^f r 
authority of the Church, we profess that they are elements, not composed 
of two, but of one Sacrament. This is proved by the very of Uvo ele - 
nurnber of the Sacraments, which, according to the doctrine of |?o^t u . ut 
apostolic tradition, and the definitions of the Councils of Late- tive of one 
ran, 1 Florence, 3 and Trent, 3 is confined to seven. It also fol- Sacrament - 
lows from the nature of the Holy Eucharist ; the grace which 
it imparts renders us one mystic body ; and to accord with 
what it accomplishes, the Eucharist must constitute but one 
Sacrament one, not by consisting of one element, but by sig 
nifying one thing. Of this the analogy which exists between 
this our spiritual food, and the food of the body, furnishes an 
illustration. Meat and drink, although two different things, are 
used only for one object, the sustenance of the body; so should 
the two different species of the Sacrament, to signify the food 
of the soul, be significant of one thing only, and constitute 
therefore but one Sacrament. The justness of this analogy is 
sustained by these words of our Lord : " My flesh is meat in 
deed, and my blood is drink indeed."* 

What the Sacrament of the Eucharist signifies, the pastor The Eu- 

will also carefully explain, that on beholding the sacred myste- charist sig- 
i_ * -.1 / i /!! nilies threo 

ries, the faithful may also, at the same time, feed their souls on things. 

the contemplation of heavenly things. This Sacrament, then, 
is significant of three things the passion of Christ, a thing 
past divine grace, a thing present and eternal glory, a thing 
future. It is significant of the passion of Christ : " This do," 
says our Lord, "for a commemoration of me." 5 "As often," 
says the Apostle, " as you shall eat this bread, and drink the 
chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come." 6 
It is significant of divine grace, which is infused, on receiving !! 
this sacrament, to nurture and preserve the soul. 7 As by Bap 
tism, we are begotten to newness of life, and by Confirmation, 
are strengthened to resist Satan, and to profess openly the name 
of Christ ; so, by the Sacrament of the Eucharist, are we spi 
ritually nurtured and supported. It is also significant of eter- III. 
nal glory, which, according to the divine promises, is reserved 
for us in our celestial country. These three things, distinguished 
as they are by different times, past, present, and future, the 
Holy Eucharist, although consisting of different species, marks 
as significantly as if they were but one. 

To consecrate the Sacrament validly, to instruct the faithful The matter 
in that of which it is the symbol, and to kindle in their souls of this Sa 
an ardent desire of possessing the invaluable treasure which it 
signifies, it is of vital importance that the pastor make himself 

1 Ex Conciliis oitatis I.ateranense generale sub Innocent II. Non numeral qui 
lem distincte septem Sarramenta, sed ex variis Canonilt. satis clare colligimtur 

2 Florent. in tloct. de sacrem. 3 Trid. sess 7, can. 1. 4 John vi. 56. 
5 Luke xxii. 19. 6 1 Cor. xi. 26. 7 Tertul. de Resur. carnis, c. & 



The sacra 

Also, un 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

acquainted with its matter. The matter of this Sacrament is 
two-fold, consisting of wheaten bread, arid of wine pressed from 
the grape, mixed with a little water. The first element, then, 
(of the latter we shall treat hereafter) is bread : as the Evan 
gelists, Matthew, 1 Mark, 3 and Luke, 3 testify : " Christ our Lord," 
say they, " took bread into his hands, blessed, and brake it, 
saying, THIS is MY BODY ;" and according to St. John, he deno 
minated himself bread in these words : "I am the living bread 
that came down from heaven." 4 

As, however, there are different sorts of bread, composed of 
different materials, such as wheat, barley, pease, or made in dif 
ferent manners, such as leavened and unleavened ; it is to be 
observed that, with regard to the former, the sacramental mat 
ter, according to the words of our Lord, should consist of 
wheaten bread ; for when we simply say bread, we mean, ac 
cording to common usage, " wheaten bread." 5 This is also dis 
tinctly declared by a figure of the Holy Eucharist in the Old 
Testament: the Lord commanded that the loaves of proposition, 
which prefigured this Sacrament, should be made of " fine 
flour." 8 

As, therefore, wheaten bread alone is the proper matter of 
this Sacrament, a doctrine handed down by Apostolic tradition, 
and confirmed by the authority of the Catholic Church ; it may 
also be inferred from the circumstances in which the Eucharist 
was instituted, that this wheaten bread should be unleavened. 
It was consecrated and instituted by our Lord, on the first day 
of unleavened bread, a time when the Jews were prohibited by 
the law, to have leavened bread in their houses. 7 Should the 
words of the Evangelist St. John, who says that all this was 
done before the Passover, be objected, the objection is one of 
easy solution : by " the day before the Pasch,"* St. John under 
stands the same day, which the other Evangelists designate 
" the first day of unleavened bread." He had for object, prin 
cipally, to mark the natural day, which does not commence 
until sunrise; and the first natural day of the Pasch, therefore, 
being Friday, " the day before the Pasch" means Thursday, 
on the evening of which the festival of unleavened bread be 
gan, and on which our Lord celebrated the Pasch and insti 
tuted the Holy Eucharist. Hence, St. Chrysostome understands 
the first day of unleavened bread to be the day, on the evening of 
which the unleavened bread was to be eaten. 9 The peculiar 
propriety of the consecration of unleavened bread, to express 
that integrity and purity of heart, with which the faithful should 
approach this Sacrament, we learn from these words of the 

i Matt. xxvi. 26. 2 Mark xiv. 22. 3 Luke xxii. 19. 

4 John vi. 41. Vide de consecr. dist. 2. c. 1. et 2. et 55. ubi habes de hac matena 
decreta Alexandr. Pap. in 1. Epist. ad omnes Orthodoxos et Cypr. lib. 2. Epist. 3. et 
Ambr. 1. 4. de Sacram. c. 4. vide etiam Iren. 1. 4. c. 34. et 1. 5. c. 2. 

s D. Th. 3 p. 9. 74. c. 3. 6 Lev. xxiv. 5. 

7 Matt, xxv i. 17. Mark xiv. 12. Luke xxii. 7. Vide 1. 3. decretal, tit. de cele- 
lirat. Missamm, c. ult. ubi habes auctoritatam Honorii Fap. 3. 

8 John xiii. 1. 9 In Math. horn. 83. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 151 

Apostle : " Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new 
paste, as you are unleavened ; for Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. 
Therefore, let us feast not with the old leaven, not with the lea 
ven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread 
of sincerity and truth." 1 

This property of the bread, however, is not to be considered Unleaven- 
so essential as that its absence must render the Sacrament null : ed bread 
both sorts, leavened and unleavened, are called by the common t ial. 
name, and have each the nature and properties, of bread. 8 No 
one, however, should on his own individual authority, have the 
temerity to depart from the laudable rite, observed in the Church 
to which he belongs; and such departure is the less warrantable 
in priests of the Latin Church, commanded, as they are, by 
authority of the supreme Pontiff, to celebrate the sacred mys 
teries with unleavened bread only. 3 With regard to the first 
element of this Sacrament, this exposition will be found suffi 
ciently comprehensive. We may, however, observe in addition, 
that the quantity of bread to be used is not determined, depend 
ing as it does upon the number of communicants, a matter 
which cannot be defined. 

We come next to treat of the second element of this Sacra- Thesecona 
ment, which forms part of its matter, and consists of wine, element, 
pressed from the grape, mingled with a little water. That our r^e^mm* 
Lord made use of wine, in the institution of this Sacrament, i;led\vitha 
lias been at all times the doctrine of the Catholic Church. He [ " le wa ~ 
himself said : " I will not drink, henceforth, of this fruit of the 
vine, until that day." 4 On these words of our Lord, St. Chry- 
sostome observes : " Of the fruit of the vine, which certainly 
produces wine, not water ; as if he had it in view, even at so 
early a period, to crush by the evidence of these words, the 
heresy which asserted that water alone is to be used in these 
mysteries." 5 With the wine used in the sacred mysteries, the 
Church of God, however, has always mingled watei\ because, 
as we know on the authority of councils and the testimony of 
St. Cyprian, our Lord himself did so ; 8 and also because this 
admixture renews the recollection of the blood and water which 
issued from his sacred side. The word water we also find used 
in the Apocalypse, to signify the people, 7 and, therefore, water 
mixed with wine signifies the union of the faithful with Christ 
their head. This rite, derived from apostolic tradition, the 
Catholic Church has at all times observed. The propriety of 
mingling water with the wine rests, it is true, on authority so 
grave, that to omit the practice would be to incur the guilt of 
mortal sin ; however, Ks sole omission would be insufficient to 
render the Sacrament null. But care must be taken not only to 
mingle water with the wine, but also to mingle it in small quan- 

i 1 Cor. v. 7, 8. 2 Concil Florent sess. ult. 

3 Lib. 2. decret. de celebr. miss. c. final. < Matt. xxvi. 29. Mark xiv. 25 

5 Horn. 83. in Mat th. 

6 Cyp. lib. ]. epist. 3. Trid. sess. 22. de sacrif. miss. c. 7. et can. 9. 
* Apoc. xvii. 15. 

1 52 The, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

tity ; for in the opinion of ecclesiastical writers, the water is 
changed into wine. Hence, these words of Pope Honorius : 
" A pernicious abuse has prevailed, for a long time, amongst 
you, of using in the holy sacrifice a greater quantity of water 
than of wine ; whereas in accordance with the rational practice 
of the Universal Church, the wine should be used in much 
greater quantity than the water." 1 We have now treated of the 
only two elements of this Sacrament ; and although some dared 
to do otherwise, many decrees of the Church justly enact that 
no celebrant offer any thing but bread and wine. 3 

Peculiar \y e now come to consider the aptitude of these two elements 
these efe- * declare those things of which they are the sensible signs, 
merits. In the first place, they signify Christ, the true life of the world ; 
for our Lord himself has said : " My flesh is meat indeed, and 
my blood is drink indeed." 3 As, therefore, the body of our 
Lord Jesus Christ nourishes to eternal life those who receive it 
with purity and holiness, with great propriety is this Sacrament 
composed principally of those elements which sustain life ; 
thus giving the faithful to understand that the soul is nurtured 
with grace by a participation of the precious body and blood of 
H- Christ. These elements serve also to prove the dogma of the 
real presence. Seeing, as we do, that bread and wine are every 
day changed by the power of nature, into human flesh and 
blood, we are, by the obvious analogy of the fact, the more 
readily induced to believe that the substance of the bread and 
wine is changed, by the celestial benediction, into the real body 
III- and blood of Christ. 4 This admirable change also contributes 
to illustrate what takes place in the soul. As the bread and 
wine, although invisibly, are really and substantially changed 
into the body and blood of Christ, so are we, although interi 
orly and invisibly, yet really renewed to life, receiving in the 
Sacrament of the Eucharist, the true life. Moreover, the body 
IV. of the Church, although one, and undivided, consists of the 
union of many members, and of this mysterious union nothing 
is more strikingly illustrative than bread and wine. Bread is 
made from many grains, wine is pressed from many grapes, 
and thus are we too, although many, closely united by this 
mysterious bond of union, and made as it were one body. 
The form The form to be used in the consecration of the bread, we 
o be used now come to explain ; not, however, with a view that the faith- 
secrationof ful should be taught these mysteries, unless necessity require 
die bread, it, (a knowledge of them is obligatory on ecclesiastics alone) 
^ u * to obviate the possibility of mistakes on the part of the ce- 
lebrant, through ignorance of the form ; mistakes, were they to 
occur, as discreditable to the minister, as derogatory to the dig 
nity of the divine mysteries. From the Evangelists Matthew 
and Luke, and also from the Apostle, we learn that the form oi 

Habetur 1. 3. Decretal, de eel. miss. c. 13. 

2 Vid. de consecr. dist. 2. c. 1. 2. et seq. 3 John vi. 56. 

4 Damas. 1. 4. de fid. orthod. c. 14. 

On the Sacrament of the Euchanst. 153 

the Sacrament consists in these words : " THIS is MY BODY." 

We read that when they had supped, " Jesus took bread, and 

blessed and brake and gave to his disciples, saying : take and 

eat, THIS is MY BODY j" 1 and this form of consecration, made from the 

use of by Jesus Christ, has been uniformly and inviolably ob- Fathers 

served in the Catholic Church. The testimonies of the Fathers *|j s 

in proof of its legitimacy, may be here omitted ; to enumerate 

them would prove an endless task. The decree of the Council 

of Florence to the same effect, because of easy access to all, it 

is also unnecessary to cite. The necessity of every other 

proof is superseded by these words of the Saviour : " This 

do for a commemoration of me." 3 This command of our Lord 

embraces not only what he did, but also what he said, and has 

more immediate reference to his own words uttered not less for 

the purpose of effecting, than of signifying what they effected. 3 

That these words constitute the form is easily proved from from rea- 
reason alone. The form of a Sacrament is that which signifies son- 
what is accomplished in the Sacrament : what is accomplished 
in the Eucharist, that is the conversion of the bread into the 
true body of our Lord, the words " this is my body," signify 
and declare ; they therefore constitute the form. The words 
of the Evangelist, " he blessed," go to support this reasoning. 
They are equivalent to saying : " taking bread, he blessed it, 
saying, this is my body." 4 The words, " take and eat," it is 
true, precede the words " this is my body," but they evidently 
express the use, not the consecration oi the matter, and cannot, 
therefore constitute the form. But although not necessary to 
the consecration of the Sacrament, they are not, however, on 
any account, to be omitted. The conjunction " for," has also 
u place amongst the words of consecration ; otherwise it would 
follow that if the Sacrament were not to be administered to any 
one, it should not, or even could not be consecrated ; whereas, 
that the priest by pronouncing the words of our Lord, according 
to the institution and practice of the Church, truly consecrates 
the proper matter of the Sacrament, although it should after 
wards happen never to be administered, admits not the least 
shadow of doubt. 

The form of the consecration of the wine, the other element The form 
of this Sacrament, is, for the reasons assigned with regard to the j ^ "^ 
bread, necessary to be accurately known, and clearly understood gecration or 
by the priest. It is firmly to be believed that the form of con- the w ne > 
secvating the chalice is comprehended in these words : " THIS 


1 Matt. rxyi. 26. Mark xiv. 22. Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 24. 

2 Luke xxii. 19. In decret. de sacrarn. item Trid. sess. 13. c. 1. 

3 Quod ad Patres attinet, vid. Amb. 1. 4. de sacram. c. 4. et 5. Chrys. horn, de 
prodit. Judse. Aug. 1. 3. de Trinit. c. 4. Iren. ]. 4. contr. haer. c. 34. Orig. lib. 8. 
ooritr. Celsum. Hesich. 1. G. in Levit. c. 22. Cyril. Alex, epist ad Calosorum epis- 
eop. Tertul. 1. 4. contr. Marc, in Hiear. epist. 1. 

4 Matt. xxvi. 26. s Decretal. 1. 3. de celeb, raise, c. 6. 


from tradi 

from rea 

three ef 
fects of the 
blood of the 



The form 
of conse 
crating the 
wine, ex 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

are for the most part taken from Scripture. Some of them, 
however, have been preserved in the Church by apostolic tra 
dition. The words "this is the chalice" are taken from St. 
Luke, 1 and are also mentioned by the Apostle. a The words 
that immediately follow. " of my blood, or my blood of the 
new testament, which shall be shed for you, and for many to 
the remission of sins," are taken in part from St. Luke, 1 * and in 
part from St. Matthew. 4 The words " and eternal," and also 
the words "the mystery of faith," have been transmitted to us 
by holy tradition, the interpreter and guardian of Catholic unity. 
Of the legitimacy of this form we cannot entertain a shadow of 
doubt, if we attend to what has been already said of the form 
used in the consecration of the bread. The form to be used in 
the consecration of this element, should, confessedly, consist 
of words signifying that the substance of the wine is changed 
into the blood of our Lord : this the words already cited clearly 
declare ; and therefore, they alone exclusively constitute the 

They also express certain admirable fruits produced by the 
blood of Christ, which was shed on Calvary, fruits which be 
long in a special manner to this Sacrament. Of these one is 
admission into the eternal inheritance to which we have acquired 
a right by " the new and everlasting testament :" 3 another 
is admission to righteousness by " the mystery of faith," for 
"God hath proposed" Jesus "to be a propitiation through faith 
in his blood, to the showing of his justice, that he himself may 
be just, and the justifierof him, who is of the faith of Jesus 
Christ:" 8 a third is the remission of sin. 7 

But as the words of consecration are replete with mysteries, 
and are most appropriate in their application to our present sub 
ject, they demand a more minute consideration. When, there 
fore, it is said : " This is the chalice of my blood," 8 these words 
are to be understood to mean: "This is my blood which is 
contained in this chalice." The mention of "the chalice," at 
the moment of its consecration, to be the drink of the faithful, 
is peculiarly appropriate: without its mention as the vessel in 
which it is contained, the words: " This is my blood," would 
not seem sufficiently to designate this supernatural species of 
drink. Next follow the words: "of the New Testament;" 
they are added to give us to understand, that the blood of the 
Saviour is not now given figuratively, as in the Old Law, of 
which we read in the Apostle, that without blood a Testament 
is not dedicated ; 9 but really and truly given, a prerogative pe 
culiar to the New Testament. Hence the Apostle says : " There 
fore, Christ is the mediator of the New Testament, that by 
means of his death, they who. are called may receive the pro 
mise of eternal inheritance." 10 The word "eternal" refers to 

i Luke xxii. 20. 
4 Matt. xxvi. 28. 
? Heb, ix. 12. 
9 Heb. ix. 18. 

2 1 Cor. xi. 25. 

5 Heb. x. 20. xiii. 20. 

8 Decret. 1. 3. de eel. Miss. c. 8. 
Heb. ix. 15. 

3 Luke xxii. 20. 
6 Rom. iii. 25, 26. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 155 

the eternal inheritance, our title to which has been purchased 
by Christ the Lord, the eternal Testator. The words " mystery 
of faith," which are added, exclude not the reality, but signify 
that what lies concealed under the veil of mystery, and is far 
removed from the ken of mortal eye, is to be believed with the 
certainty of faith. Here, however, these words bear an import 
entirely different from that which they have when applied to 
baptism. Here, the mystery of faith consists in this, that we 
see by faith the blood of Christ, veiled under the species of 
wine ; but baptism is properly called by us " the Sacrament," 
by the Greeks, "the mystery of faith," because it comprises 
the entire profession of the faith of Christ. There is also an 
other reason why the blood of our Lord is called " the mystery 
of faith." In its belief human reason experiences the greatest 
difficulties, because faith proposes to us to believe that the Son 
of God, God and man, suffered death for our redemption, a 
death signified by the Sacrament of his blood. His passion, 
therefore, is more appropriately commemorated here, in the 
words, "which shall be shed for the remission of sins," than at 
the consecration of his body. The separate consecration of 
the blood places before our eyes, in more vivid colours, his 
passion, crucifixion, and death. The additional words, "for 
you and for many," are taken, some from St. Matthew, 1 some 
from St. Luke, 3 and under the guidance of the Spirit of God, 
combined together by the Catholic Church. They serve em 
phatically to designate the fruit and advantages of his passion. 
Looking to the efficacy of the passion, we believe that the Re 
deemer shed his blood for the salvation of all men ; but look 
ing to the advantages, which mankind derive from its efficacy, 
we find, at once, that they are not extended to the whole, but 
to a large proportion of the human race. When, therefore, our 
Lord said : " for you," he meant either those who were pre 
sent, or those whom he had chosen from amongst the Jews, 
amongst whom were, with the exception of Judas, all his dis 
ciples with whom he then conversed ; but when he adds, " for 
many," he would include the remainder of the elect from 
amongst the Jews and Gentiles. With great propriety there 
fore, were the words, for all, omitted, because here the fruit of 
the passion is alone spoken of, and to the elect only did his 
passion bring the fruit of salvation. This the words of the 
Apostle declare, when he says, that Christ was offered once, to 
take away the sins of many ; 3 and the same truth is conveyed 
in these words of our Lord recorded by St. John : "I pray 
for them, I pray not for the world ; but for them whom thou 
hast given me, because they are thine." 4 The words of conse 
cration also convey many other truths ; truths, however, which 
the pastor by the daily meditation and study of divine things, 
and aided by grace from above, will not find it difficult to dis 

1 Matt. xxvi. 28. 2 Luke xxii. 20. 

3 Heb. ix. 26 John xvii. 9. 

156 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

This sub- To return to those things, of which the faithful are on no ac- 
teiTto be count to be suffered to remain ignorant, the pastor, aware of the 
judged of awful denunciation of the Apostle against those who discern not 

by f h th h ^ e boc ^ ^ tlie Lord, 1 wil1 first f a11 i m P ress on tne minds 
"enses. f tne faithful, the necessity of detaching, as much as possible, 
their minds and understandings from the dominion of the senses, 
for were they, with regard to this sublime mystery, to consti 
tute the senses the only tribunal to which they are to appeal, 
the awful consequence must be, their precipitation into the ex 
treme of impiety. Consulting the sight, the touch, the smell, 
the taste, and finding nothing but the appearances of bread and 
wine, the senses must naturally lead them to think, that this Sa 
crament contains nothing more than bread and wine. Their 
minds, therefore, are as much as possible to be withdrawn from 
subjection to the senses, and excited to the contemplation of the 
stupendous power of God. 

The words The Catholic Church, then, firmly believes, and openly pro 
of cpnse- fesses that in this Sacrament, the words of consecration accom- 
effecuhree plish three things ; first, that the true and real body of Christ, 
things. the same that was born of the Virgin, and is now seated at the 
right hand of the Father in heaven, is rendered present in the 

II. Holy Eucharist; 3 secondly, that however repugnant it may ap 
pear to the dictate of the senses, no substance of the elements 

III. remains in the Sacrament ; 3 and thirdly, a natural consequence 
from the two preceding, and one which the words of consecra 
tion also express, that the accidents which present themselves 
to the eyes, or other senses, exist in a wonderful and ineffable 
manner without a subject. The accidents of bread and wine 
we see; but they inhere in no substance, and exist indepen 
dently of any. The substance of the bread and wine is so 
changed into the body and blood of our Lord, that they, alto 
gether, cease to be the substance of bread and wine. 

The real To proceed in order, the pastor will begin with the first, and 
presence gj ve j^g b est attention to show, how clear and explicit are the 
fronYscrip- words of our Saviour, which establish the real presence of his 
ture. body in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. When our Lord says : 

" This is my body, this is my blood," 4 no man however igno 
rant, unless he labours under some obliquity of intellect, can 
mistake his meaning ; particularly if he recollect, that the words 
" body" and " blood" refer to his human nature, the real as 
sumption of which by the Son of God no Catholic can doubt. 
To use the admirable words of St. Hilary, a man not less emi 
nent for piety than learning: "When our Lord himself de 
clares, as our faith teaches us, that his flesh is meat indeed, 
what room can remain for doubt?" 5 The pastor will also ad- 

1 1 Cor. xi. 29. 

2 Vide Dionys. de Eccl. Hierarch. c. 3, Ignat. Epist. ad Smyr. Just. Apol. 2, Iren. 
1. 4, c. 34, et 1. 5. c. 2. Trid. Sess. 13, c. 1, de Euch. 

3 Cypr. de coena domini Euse. Emiss. horn. 5. de Pasch. Cyril. Hycros. Catech. 1. 
3 et 4, Ambr. 1. 4, de Sacram. c. 4, Chrysost. horn. 83. in Matt, et 60, ad pop. Antiocli. 

i Matt. xxvi. 28. Mark xiv. 22, 24. Luke xxii. 19. 

6 S. Hilar. 1. 8, de Trinitat. super ilia verba velut unura 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 15? 

duce another passage from Scripture in proof of this sublime 
truth : having recorded the consecration of bread and wine by 
our Lord, and also the administration of the sacred mysteries 
to the Apostles, by the hands of the Saviour, the Apostle adds : 
" But let a man prove himself, and so eat of that bread and 
drink of the chalice, for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, 
eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the 
body of the Lord." 1 If, as heresy asserts, the Sacrament 
presents nothing to our veneration but a memorial and sign of 
the passion of Christ, why exhort the faithful, in language so 
energetic to prove themselves ? The answer is obvious : by 
the heavy denunciation contained in the words "judgment," 
the Apostle marks the enormity of his guilt, who receives un 
worthily and distinguishes not from common food the body of 
the Lord, concealed beneath the eucharistic veil. The preced 
ing words of the Apostle develope more fully his meaning : 
" The chalice of benediction," says he, " which we bless, is it 
not the communion of the blood of Christ ? and the bread which 
we break, is it not the participation of the body of the Lord ?" a 
words which prove to demonstration the real presence of Jesus 
Christ in the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. 

These passages of Scripture, are, therefore, to be expounded From tra- 
by the pastor, and he will emphatically press upon the attention 
of the faithful, that their meaning, in itself obvious, is placed 
beyond all doubt by the uniform interpretation and authority of 
the Holy Catholic Church. That such has been at all times 
the doctrine of the Church, may be ascertained in a two-fold 
manner ; by consulting the Fathers who flourished in the early 
ages of the Church and in each succeeding century, who are 
the most unexceptionable witnesses of her doctrine, and all of 
whom teach in the clearest terms, and with the most entire una 
nimity, the dogma of the real presence ; and also by appealing 
to the Councils of the Church, convened on this important sub 
ject. To adduce the individual testimony of each Father would 
prove an endless task enough, that we cite, or rather point out 
a few, whose testimony will afford a sufficient criterion by which 
to judge of the rest. Let St. Ambrose first declare his faith: 
in his book on " the Initiated" he says, that the same true body . 
of our Lord, which was assumed of the Virgin, is received in 
this Sacrament ; a truth which he declares is to be believed with 
the certainty of faith ; and in another place he distinctly tells 
us, that before consecration it is bread, but after consecration 
it is the flesh of Christ. 3 St. Chrysostome, another witness of 
equal fidelity and weight, professes and proclaims this myste 
rious truth, particularly in his sixtieth homily on those who re 
ceive the sacred mysteries unworthily ; and also in his forty- 
fourth and forty-fifth homilies on St. John: "Let us," says 
he, "obey, not contradict God, although what he says may 

1 Cor. xi. 28, 29. 2 1 Cor. x. 16. 

3 Lib. 4, de Sacr. c. 4, et de iis qui myster. init. c. 9. vide et de consec. dist 2 
plurim. in locis. 



And con 
firmed by 

Tlie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

seem contrary to our reason and our sight : his words cannot 
deceive, our senses are easily deceived." 1 With the doctrine 
thus taught by St. Chrysostome, that uniformly taught by St. 
Augustine fully accords, particularly when in his explanation 
of the thirty-third Psalm, he says: "To carry himself in his 
own hands, is impossible to man, and peculiar to Christ alone; 
he was carried in his own hands, when giving his body to be 
eaten, he said, This is my body." To pass by Justin and Ire- 
naeus, St. Cyril, in his fourth book on St. John, declares in such 
express terms, that the body of our Lord is contained in this 
Sacrament, that no sophistry can distort, no captious interpre 
tations obscure his meaning. Should the pastor wish for addi 
tional testimonies of the Fathers, he will find it easy to add the 
Hilaries, the Jeromes, the Denises, the Damascenes, and a host 
of other illustrious names, whose sentiments on this most im 
portant subject he will find collected by the labour and industry 
of men eminent for piety and learning. 8 

Another means of ascertaining the belief of the Church on 
matters of faith, is the condemnation of the contrary doctrine. 
That the belief of the real presence was that of the universal 
Church of God, unanimously professed by all her children, is 
demonstrated by a well authenticated fact. When in the ele 
venth century, Berengarius presumed to deny this dogma, assert 
ing that the Eucharist was only a sign, the innovation was im 
mediately condemned by the unanimous voice of the Christian 
world. The Council of Vercelli, convened by authority of 
Leo IX., denounced the heresy, and Berengarius himself re 
tracted and anathematized his error. Relapsing, however, into 
the same infatuation and impiety, he was condemned by three 
different Councils, convened, one at Tours, the other two at 
Rome : of the two latter, one was summoned by Nicholas II., 
the other by Gregory VII. The general Council of Lateran 
held under Innocent III., further ratified the sentence ; and the 
faith of the Catholic Church, on this point of doctrine, was 
more fully declared and more firmly established in the Councils 
of Florence and Trent. 

If, then, the pastor carefully explain these particulars, his 
labours will be blessed with the effect of strengthening the 
weak, and administering joy and consolation to the pious ; (of 
those who, blinded by error, hate nothing more than the light 
of truth, we waive all mention) and this two-fold effect will be 
more securely attained, as the faithful cannot doubt that this 
dogma is numbered amongst the articles of faith. Believing 
and confessing as they do, that the power of God is supreme, 

1 tet. Chrys. ad popul. Antioch. homil. 60 et 61. 

2 Divus Augustinus in Psalm xxxiii. Cone. 1, a medio ad finem usque. Cyril, 
lib. 4, in Joan. c. 33, et 14, et lib. 1, c. 13. Inst. Apolog. 2, sub finem ad Antonium 
1 ium. 

3 Iren. lib. 5, contra heraetic. et lib. 5, in Joan. c. 34. Dionys. Ecclee. Hier. 
. 3, Hilar. lib. 8. de Trinit. Hieron. epist ad I~Vj<nascen. Damas. lib. 4, de or- 
I hod. fid. c. 14. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 159 

they must also believe that his omnipotence can accomplish the 
great work which we admire and adore in the Sacrament of the 
Eucharist ; and again, believing as they do, the Holy Catholic II. 
Church, they must necessarily believe that the doctrine ex 
pounded by us, is that which was revealed by the Son of God. 

But nothing contributes more to light up in the pious soul The digni- 
that spiritual joy, of which we have spoken ; nothing is more ^ d c( ^j[ e t ^ 
fertile of spiritual fruit, than the contemplation of the exalted church by 
dignity of this most august Sacrament. From it we learn how the institu- 
great must be the perfection of the gospel dispensation, under sacrament 
which we enjoy the reality of that, which under the Mosaic 
Law was only shadowed by types and figures. Hence St. De 
nis, with a wisdom more than human, says that our Church is 
a mean between the synagogue and the heavenly Jerusalem, 
and participates of the nature of both. 1 The perfection of the 
Holy Catholic Church, and her exalted glory, removed only by 
one degree from heaven, the faithful cannot sufficiently admire. 
In common with the inhabitants of heaven, we, too, possess 
Christ, God and man, present with us ; but they, and in this 
they are raised a degree above us, are admitted to the actual 
enjoyment of the beatific vision; whilst we, with a firm and 
unwavering faith, offer the tribute of our homage to the Di 
vine Majesty present with us, not, it is true, in a manner visi 
ble to mortal eye, but hidden by a miracle of power, under the 
veil of the sacred mysteries. How admirably does not this Sa 
crament, also, display to us the infinite love of Jesus Christ to 
man ! It became the goodness of the Saviour not to withdraw 
from us that nature which he assumed for our sake, but to de 
sire, as far as possible, to dwell permanently amongst us, at all 
times strictly verifying the words : " My delight is to be with 
the children of men." 8 

Here the pastor will also explain to the faithful, that in this Christ 
Sacrament are contained not only the true body of Christ, and all ^ nt " r( ? p" e . 
the constituents of a true body, but also Christ whole and entire sent in this 
that the word Christ designates the man-God, that is to say, one Sacrament 
Person in whom are united the divine and human natures that 
the holy Eucharist, therefore, contains both, and whatever is in 
cluded in the idea of both, the divinity and humanity whole and <~ 
entire, the soul, the body and blood of Christ with all their 
component parts all of which faith teaches us are contained 
in the Sacrament. In heaven the whole humanity is united to 
the divinity in one hypostasis, or person, and it were impious, 
therefore, to suppose that the body of Christ, which is contain 
ed in the Sacrament, is separated from his divinity. 3 

The pastor, however, will not fail to observe, that in the Sa- In this Sa 
crament all are not contained after the same manner, or by the g^^ ent> 
same efficacy : some things, we say, the efficacy of consecra- things ef- 

i De Eccl. Hierar. c. 3. p. 1. 2 Prov. viii. 31. 

3 Vide de consec. dist. 2, raultis in locis, item Amb. de iis qui myst. init, c. 9, D 
T. p, 3. q. 76, art 1. 


footed by 
the words 
of conse 
some by 

The ele 
why sepa 
rately con 

whole and 
entire in 
each parti 
cle of 
either spe 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

tion accomplishes ; for as the words of consecration effectuate 
what they signify, sacred writers usually say, that whatever the 
form expresses, is contained in the Sacrament by virtue of the 
Sacrament; and hence, could we suppose any one thing to be 
entirely separated from the rest, the Sacrament, in their opinion, 
would be found to contain solely what the form expresses. But, 
some things are contained in the Sacrament, because united to 
those which are expressed in the form ; for instance, the words 
" This is my body," which comprise the form used to conse 
crate the bread, signify the body of the Lord, and hence, the 
body of the Lord is contained in the Eucharist, by virtue of the 
Sacrament. As, however, to the body are united his blood, his 
soul, his divinity, they too must be found to coexist in the Sacra 
ment ; not, however, by virtue of the consecration, but by virtue 
of the union that subsists between them and his body ; and this 
theologians express by the word " concomitance." Hence it is 
clear that Christ, whole and entire, is contained in the Sacra 
ment ; for when two things are actually united, where one is, 
the other must also be. Hence it also follows, that Christ, 
whole and entire, is contained under either species, so that as 
under the species of bread, are contained not only the body, but 
also the blood and Christ entire, so in like manner, under the 
species of wine are contained not only the blood, but also the 
body and Christ entire. These are matters on which the faithful 
cannot entertain a doubt. Wisely, however, was it ordained 
that two distinct consecrations should take place : they repre 
sent in a more lively manner, the passion of our Lord, in which 
his blood was separated from his body ; and hence, in the form 
of consecration we commemorate the effusion of his blood. 
The sacrament is to be used by us as the food and nourish 
ment of our souls ; and it was most accordant with this its use, 
that it should be instituted as meat and drink, which obviously 
constitute the proper food of man. 

The pastor will also inform the faithful, that Christ, whole 
and entire, is contained not only under either species, but also 
in each particle of either species: "Each," says St. Augustine, 
" receives Christ the Lord entire in each particle : he is not 
diminished by being given to many, but gives himself whole 
and entire to each." 1 This is also an obvious inference from 
the narrative of the Evangelists : it is not to be supposed that 
the bread used at the Last Supper was consecrated by our Lord 
in separate parts, applying the form particularly to each, but 
that all the sacramental bread then used, was consecrated in 
sufficient quantity to be distributed amongst the Apostles, at the 
same time and with the same form. That the consecration of 
the chalice also, was performed in the same manner, is obvious 
from these words of the Saviour: " Take and divide it amongst 
you." 3 

What has hitherto been said is intended to enable the pastor 

i August, de consec. dist, 2. c, singulis. 

2 Luke xxii. 17. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. \ J 

to show, that the body and blood of Christ are really and truly proved 
contained in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. That the sub- lrom rea 
stance of the bread and wine does not continue to exist in the 
Sacrament after consecration, is the next subject of instruction 
which is to engage his attention ; a truth which, although well 
calculated to excite our profound admiration, is yet a necessary 
consequence from what has been already established. If, after 
consecration, the body of Christ is really and truly present 
under the species of bread and wine, not having been there 
before, it must have become so by change of place by creation 
or by transubstantiation. It cannot be rendered present by 
change of place, because it would then cease to be in heaven, 
for whatever is moved must necessarily cease to occupy the 
place from which it is moved. Still less can we suppose it to 
be rendered present by creation, an idea which the mind in 
stantly rejects. In order that the body of our Lord be present 
in the Sacrament, it remains, therefore, that it be rendered pre 
sent by transubstantiation, and of course, that the substance of 
the bread entirely cease to exist. Hence our predecessors in Fiom the 
the faith, the Fathers of the general Council of Lateran, 1 and Council* 
of Florence, 3 confirmed by solemn decrees the truth of this 
Article. In the Council of Trent it was still more fully denned 
in these words : " If any one shall say, that in the holy Sacra- 
merit of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine re 
mains, together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, let him be anathema." 3 The doctrine thus defined is a From 
natural inference from the words of Scripture. When insti- Script 
tuting this Sacrament, our Lord himself said : " this is my 
body:" 4 the word "this," expresses the entire substance of the 
thing present ; and therefore, if the substance of the bread re 
mained, our Lord could not have said : " This is my body." 
In St. John he also says: "The bread that I will give is my 
flesh, for the life of the world:" 5 the bread which he promises 
to give, he here declares to be " his flesh." A little after he 
adds : " Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink 
his blood, you shall not have life in you :" 8 and again, " My flesh 
is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." 7 When, there 
fore, in terms so clear and so explicit, he thus calls his flesh 
" meat indeed," and his blood " drink indeed," he gives us suf 
ficiently to understand, that the substance of the bread and wine - 
no longer exists in the Sacrament. Whoever turns over the From t 
pages of the Holy Fathers will easily perceive, that, on the 
doctrine of Transubstantiation, they have been at all times una- o 
nimous. St. Ambrose says : " You say, perhaps, this bread is them. 
i*o other than what is used for common food : before consecra- 
iwon it is indeed bread ; but, no sooner are the words of conse- 

1 Lateran. Concil. c. 1. 

1 Flor. in epist. Eugenii IV. data ad Arm, et a Concilio approbate 

3 Trid. BCSS. 13, can. 4. 

Matt. xxvi. 26. Mark xiv 22. Luke xxi. 18. 1 Cor. xi. 24. 

6 John vi. 52. John vi. 54. T John vl 56. 

14* X 


The Eu 
why called 
bread after 

The man 
ner in 
which this 
is to be ex 
plained to 
the people. 

Tlit Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

cration pronounced, than from bread it becomes the flesh of 
Christ." 1 To prove this position more clearly, he elucidates 
it by a variety of comparisons and examples. In another place, 
when explaining these words of the Psalmist: "Whatsoever 
the Lord pleased he hath done in heaven and on earth," 13 he 
says : " Although the species of bread and wine are visible, yet 
faith tells us that after consecration, the body and blood of 
Christ are alone there." 3 Explaining the same doctrine almost 
in the same words, St. Hilary says, that although externally it 
appear bread and wine, yet in reality it is the body and blood 
of the Lord. 4 

Here the pastor will not omit to observe to the faithful, that 
we should not at all be surprised, if even after consecration, the 
Eucharist is sometimes called bread : it is so called because it 
has the appearance and still retains the natural quality of bread, 
which is to support and nourish the body. That such phrase 
ology is in perfect accordance with the style of the Holy Scrip 
tures, which call things by what they appear to be, is evident 
from the words of Genesis, which say, that Abraham saw three 
men, when, in reality, he saw three angels ; 5 and the two angels 
also, who appeared to the Apostles after the ascension of our 
Lord, are, called not angels, but men. 8 

To explain this mystery in a proper manner is extremely dif 
ficult. On the manner of this admirable conversion, the pastor, 
however, will endeavour to instruct those who are more ad 
vanced in the knowledge and contemplation of divine things : 
those who are yet weak may, it were to be apprehended, be 
overwhelmed by its greatness. This conversion, then, is so 
effectuated that the whole substance of the bread and wine is 
changed by the power of God, into the whole substance of the 
body of Christ, and the whole substance of the wine, into the 
whole substance of his blood, and this, without any change in 
our Lord himself : he is neither begotten, nor changed, nor in 
creased, but remains entirely and substantially the same. This 
sublime mystery St. Ambrose thus declares : " You see how 
efficacious are the words of Christ; if, then, the word of the 
Lord Jesus is so powerful as to summon creation into existence, 
shall it not require a less exercise of power, to make that sub 
sist, which already has existence, and to change it into another 
thing ?" 7 Many other Fathers, whose authority is too grave to 
be questioned, have written to the same effect: "We faithfully 
confess," says St. Augustine, " that before consecration it is 
bread and wine, the produce of nature ; but after consecration 
it is the body and blood of Christ, consecrated by the blessing." 8 
" The body," says Damascene, "is truly united to the divinity, 
the body assumed of the virgin ; not that the body thus assumed 

1 Lib. 4, de sacr. c. 4. et c. 5, c. 4. 2 Ps. cxxxiv. 6. 

3 De consec. disk 2. c. omnia. 

4 Hilar. de Triri. lib 8, et de consec. dist. 2. cap. 28. 5 Gen. xviii. 2. 

6 Acts i. 10. vid. D. Thorn. 3, p. q. 75, art. 3 et 4. D. Ambr. lib. 4. de sacr c. 4 
8 Citatur de consec. dist. 2, can. JNos. auteni. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 163 

descends from heaven, but that the bread and wine are changed 
into the body and blood of Christ." 1 This admirable change, This con- 
as the Council of Trent teaches, the Catholic Church most ap- version ap 
propriately expresses by the word " transubstantiation." 8 When, caHeS tran - 
in the natural order, the form of a being is changed, that change substantia- 
inay be properly termed "a transformation;" in like manner, tioa - . 
when, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole substance 
of one thing passes into the whole substance of another, the 
change our predecessors in the faith wisely and appropriately 
called " transubstantiation." But according to the admonition A mystery 

so frequently repeated by the Holy Fathers, the faithful are to not . to *f 

, i * f J .~. curiously 

be admonished against the danger ol gratifying a prurient curi- searched 

osity, by searching into the manner in which this change is into - 
effected. It mocks the powers of conception, nor can we find 
any example of it in natural transmutations, nor even in the wide 
range of creation. The change itself is the object not of our 
comprehension, but of our humble faith ; and the manner of 
that change forbids the temerity of a too curious inquiry. 8 

The same salutary caution should also be observed by the The same 
pastor, with regard to the mysterious manner in which the body salutary 
of our Lord is contained whole and entire under the least par- againne- 
ticle of the bread. 4 Such inscrutable mysteries should scarcely cessarv. 
ever become matter of disquisition. Should Christian charity, 
however, require a departure from this salutary rule, the pastor 
will recollect first to prepare and fortify his hearers, by reminding 
them, that "no word shall be impossible with God." 5 

The pastor will next teach, that our Lord is not in the Sacra- The hody 
ment as in a place : place regards things, only inasmuch as they of our Lord 
have magnitude ; and we do not say that Christ is in the Sacra- IhTsacrai 
ment inasmuch as he is great or small, terms which belong to ment, not 
quantity, but inasmuch as he is a substance. The substance of a m a 
the bread is changed into the substance of Christ, not into mag 
nitude or quantity ; and substance, it will be acknowledged, is 
contained in a small as well as in a large space. The substance 
of air, for instance, whether in a large or in a small quantity, 
and that of water whether confined in a vessel, or flowing in a 
river, must necessarily be the same. As, then, the body of our 
Lord succeeds to the substance of the bread, we must confess it 
to be in the Sacrament after the same manner, as the bread was 
before consecration: whether the substance of the bread was 
present in greater or less quantity is a matter of entire indif 

We now come to the third effect produced by the words of The ai,ci- 
consecration, the existence of the species of bread and wine in dent 
the Sacrament without a subject, an effect as stupendous as it is Eucharist 6 
admirable. What has been said in explanation of the two pre- without a 
ceding points, must facilitate the exposition of this mysterious sub J ect - 

1 Lib. 4, de orthod. fid. c. 14. 

2 Trid. sess. 13, c. 4, et can. 2, et de consec. distinct. 2, r. panis. 3 Eccl. lii. 22. 
< D. Thorn. 3, p. q. 76, Trid. sess. 13, c. 3. et can. 3. et Florent. in decret. Eugen. 
* Luke i. 37. 


Do be* of 
piety to- 
wards this 

The Eu- 
why inati- 
tutad un 
der the 
_-..- f 
braad a-,- 

The salu 

-c: ".. . -I- 
i. i :. : to 
all, and 

Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

truth. We have already proved that the body and blood of oar 
Lord are really and truly contained in the Sacrament, to the 
entire exclusion of the substance of the bread and wine : the 
accidents cannot inhere in the body and blood of Christ : they 
must, therefore, contrary to the physical laws, subsist of them 
selves, inhering in no subject. This has been, at all times, the 
doctrine of the Catholic Church ; and the same authorities by 
which we have already proved, that the substance of the bread 
and wine ceases to exist in the Eucharist, go to establish its 
truth. 1 But it becomes the piety of the faithful, omitting subtle 
disquisitions, to revere and adore in the simplicity of faith, the 
majesty of this august Sacrament ; and with sentiments of gra 
titude and admiration, to recognise the wisdom of God in the 
institution of the holy mysteries, under the species of bread 
and wine. To eat human flesh, or to drink human blood, is 
most revolting to human nature, and, therefore, has God in his 
infinite wisdom, established the administration of the body and 
blood of Christ, under the forms of bread and wine, the ordi 
nary and agreeable food of man. From its administration under 
these f9rms, also flow two other important advantages : it obvi 
ates the calumnious reproaches of the unbeliever, to which a 
manducation of the body and blood of our Lord, under human 
form, must be exposed ; whilst, by receiving him under a form 
in which he is impervious to the senses, our faith is augmented, 
"which," as Su Gregory observes, "has no merit in those 
things, which fall under the jurisdiction of reason."* But what 
has been hitherto said on this subject, demands much prudent 
precaution in its exposition; and in this the pastor will be 
guided by the capacity of his hearers, by times and circum 

With regard to the salutary effects of this Sacrament, these, 
because most necessary to be known by all, the pastor will ex 
pound to all, indiscriminately and without reserve.* What we 
have said at such length on this subject, is to be made known 
to the faithful, principally with a view to make them sensible 
of the advantages which flow from its participation, advantages 
too numerous and important to be expressed in words, and 
amongst which the pastor must be content to select one or 
two points for explanation, to show the superabundant graces 
with which the holy mysteries abound. To this end it will be 
found conducive, to premise an explanation of the nature and 
efficacy of the other Sacraments, and then compare the Eucha 
rist to the living fountain, the other Sacraments to so many 
rivulets. With great truth is the Holy Eucharist called the 
fountain of all grace, containing as it does, after an admi- 

i Vid. de ameer, dirt. 2, e. No* aalem et Decretal. lib. 1, tit. de Caleb. MB*, c. 
earn Matt, et D. Th. 3, p. q. 75. a. 3, et q. 77. a. 1. 

unL Ai^ SaaanL bb.4. c. 4, Ai^.Tract. 27, in Joan. D.Tboin. p. 3, q. 74,a 

1 et q. 75, a. 1. 

Trid. ~ 13. e. 3. et can. 5. Iiw. lib. 4, c. 14, Cyril lib. 4. in Joan, c, 11 et 14, 
ChrvMt. bom. 45, in Joan. D. Tbom. 3, p. q. 79. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 165 

rable manner, the source of all gifts and graces, the author of 
all the Sacraments, Christ our Lord, from whom as from their 
source, they derive all their goodness and perfection. This 
comparison, therefore, serves to show how great are the trea 
sures of grace, which are derived from this Sacrament. 

It will also be found expedient to -consider attentively the na- II 
ture of bread and wine, the symbols of this sacrament : what 
bread and wine are to the body, the Eucharist is, in a superior 
order, to the health and joy of the soul. It is not, like bread 
and wine, changed into our substance ; but, in some measure, 
changes us into its own nature, and to it we may apply these 
words of St. Augustine : " I am the food of the grown ; grow 
and thou shalt partake of this food ; nor shall thou change me 
into thee, as thou dost thy corporal food, but thou shalt be 
changed into me." 1 If then "grace and truth come by Jesus 
Christ," 3 these spiritual treasures must be poured into that soul, 
which receives with purity and holiness, him who says of him 
self: " He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth 
in me and I in him." 3 Those who piously and religiously 
receive this Sacrament, receive, no doubt, the Son of God 
into their souls, and are united, as living members, to his 
body; for it is written: "He that eateth me, the same also 
shall live by me ;" 4 and also: " The bread that I will give is my 
flesh, for the life of the world." 5 Explaining these words of 
the Saviour, St. Cyril says : "The Eternal Word, uniting him 
self to his own flesh, imparted to it a vivifying power ; it be 
came him, therefore, to unite himself to us after a wonderful 
manner, through his sacred flesh and precious blood, which 
we receive in the bread and wine, consecrated by his vivifying 
benediction." 8 

But when it is said, that this Sacrament imparts grace, it is Tocommu- 
not intended to mean that, to receive this Sacrament with advan- Uiju, 1 ^ " 
tage, it is unnecessary to be previously in the state of grace, must be in 
Natural food can be of no use to a person who is already dead, the state of 
and in like manner the sacred mysteries can avail him nothing, gl 
who lives not in Spirit. Hence this Sacrament has been insti 
tuted under the forms of bread and wine, to signify, that the 
object of its institution is not to recall to life a dead soul, but to 
preserve life to a living one. We say that this Sacrament im 
parts grace, because even the first grace, which all should have 
before they presume to approach this Sacrament, le^st they 
" eat and drink judgment to themselves," 7 is given to none un- 
less they desire to receive the Holy Eucharist, which is the end 
of all the Sacraments, the symbol of ecclesiastical unity, to 
which he who does not belong, cannot receive divine grace. 
Again, as the body is not only supported but increased by na 
tural food, from which we derive new pleasure every day ; so 
nlso the life of the soul is not only sustained but invigorated by 

1 Lib. 7. Conf c. 10. Vid. Arabr. lib. 5. de sacr. c. 4 et Crys. horu. 45. in Joan. 

2 John i. 17. John vi. 57. * John vl 58. 5 John vi. 52. 
6 Lib. 4. in Joan, c. 12, 14. et ep. 10. ad Nestor. ? 1 Cor. xi. 29. 

166 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

feasting on the Eucharistic banquet, which imparts to it an iu 

creasing zest for heavenly things. With strictest truth and pro 

priety, therefore, do we say that this Sacrament, which may be 

well compared to manna, "having in it all that is delicious, and 

the sweetness of every taste," imparts grace to the soul. 1 

II. That the Holy Eucharist remits lighter offences, or, as they 

The Eu- are commonly called, venial sins, cannot be matter of doubt. 

charistre- \yhatever losses the soul sustains by falling into some slight 

sins. offences, through the violence of passion, these the Eucharist, 

which cancels lesser sins, repairs in the same manner, not to 

depart from the illustration already adduced, that natural food, 

as we know from experience, gradually repairs the daily waste 

caused by the vital heat of the system. Of this heavenly Sa 

crament justly, therefore, has St. Ambrose said: "This daily 

bread is taken as a remedy for daily infirmity." 2 This, however, 

is to be understood of venial imperfections only. 

HI. The Holy Eucharist is also an antidote against the contagion 

Is an an- of sin, and a shield against the violent assaults of temptation. 3 

againstthe ^ * s as ^ were > a heavenly medicine, which secures the soul 

contagion against the easy approach of virulent and deadly infection. St. 

of sins. Cyprian records that when, in the early ages of the Church, 

Christians were hurried in multitudes by tyrants, to torments 

and death, because they professed the name of Christ, they re 

ceived from the hand of the bishop, the Sacrament of the body 

and blood of our Lord, lest, perhaps overcome by excess of 

IV. torments, they should yield in the saving conflict. 4 It also re- 
Represses presses the licentious desires of the flesh, and keeps them in 
concupis- ue su bj ec ti on to the spirit : in proportion as it inflames the 

soul with the fire of charity, in the same proportion does it ne- 

V. cessarily extinguish the fire of concupiscence. Finally, to nar- 
Facilitates row w ithin the compass of a few words all the advantages and 
menTof 1 " blessings which emanate from this Sacrament, the Holy Eucha- 
eternallife. rist facilitates to an extraordinary degree, the attainment of eter 

nal life: "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood," 
says the Redeemer, " hath everlasting life, and I will raise him 
up on the last day." 5 The grace which it imparts, brings 
peace and tranquillity to the soul ; and when the hour shall have 
arrived in which he is to take his departure from this mortal 
life, like another Elias, who in the strength of his miraculous 
repast, walked to Horeb the mount of God, 8 the Christian, invi 
gorated by the strengthening influence of this heavenly food, 
shall wing his way to the mansions of everlasting glory and 
These ef never-ending bliss. All these important particulars the pastor 
fects ex- w ju De a ble fully to expound to the faithful, if he but dilate on 

1 Wisd. xvi. 20. 

2 Lib. 4. de Sacram. c. 6. et lib. c. 4. Innocent. Til lib. 4. de myst. Miss. c, 44. 
Cvrill. lib. 4. in Joan, c. 17. et lib. 3. c. 36. Inter opera D. Bernard! habetur cujus- 
dam senno doniirn, qui incipit: PAN EM ANGELORUM, et singular-is est de 
Euchar. videatur, et D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 79. 

3 Aug. tract. 26. in Joan. 4 Lib. l.Epist. 2. ad Cornel. 
s John vi. 55. Vul Chrys. de sacerdotic, dial. c. D. Thorn. 3. p. q. 79. art. 2. 
fi 3 Kings xix. 8 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 167 

the sixth chapter of St. John, in which are developed the mani- plained 
fold effects of this Sacrament ; or if, glancing through the life tj e j 3u3 
and actions of our Lord, he shows that if they who received 
him beneath their roof during his mortal life, 1 or were restored 
to health by touching his vesture, or even the hem of his gar 
ment, 2 were justly deemed happy, how much more harrpy we, 
into whose souls, resplendent as he is with unfading glory, he,, 
disdains not to enter, to heal all our spiritual wounds, to enrich 
us with his choicest gifts, and to unite us to himself ! 

But to excite the faithful to emulate better gifts, 3 the pastor The man- 
will also point out who they are who derive these inestimable nerofcom - 
... ..-r-iii ! rounicating 

blessings from a participation of the holy mysteries, reminding threefold: 

them that Christians may communicate differently and with dif 
ferent effects. Hence our predecessors in the faith, as we read 
in the Council of Trent, 4 distinguished three classes of commu 
nicants Some receive the Sacrament only: such are those sin- Sacramei 
ners who dread not to approach the holy mysteries with pol- y> 
luted lips and depraved hearts, Avho, as the Apostle says, " eat 
and drink unworthily." 5 Of this class of communicants St. 
Augustine says : " He who dwells not in Christ, and in whom 
Christ does not dwell, most certainly eats not spiritually his 
flesh, although carnally and visibly he press with his teeth the 
Sacrament of his flesh and blood." 8 Not only, therefore, do 
those who receive the Holy Eucharist with these dispositions, 
obtain no fruit from its participation, but, as the Apostle says, 
" they eat and drink judgment to themselves." 7 Others are Spiritually 
said to receive the Holy Eucharist in spirit only : they are those 
who, inflamed with a lively " faith that worketh by charity," 8 
participate in desire, of this celestial food, from which they re 
ceive, if not the entire, at least very considerable fruit. Lastly, Sacramen- 
there are some who receive the Holy Eucharist both spiritually 
and sacramentally, those who, according to the advice of the 
Apostle, having first proved themselves, 9 approach this divine 
banquet, adorned with the nuptial garment, 10 and derive from it 
all those superabundant graces which we have already mentioned. 
Those, therefore, who, having it in their power to receive, with 
due preparation, the Sacrament of the body and blood of the 
Lord, are yet satisfied with a spiritual communion only, manifestly 
deprive themselves of a heavenly treasure of inestimable value. 
We now come to point out the manner in which the faithful 
should be previously prepared for sacramental communion. To Necessity 

demonstrate the necessity of this previous preparation, the ex- of P revioul 

i c ^i o -i i i < i -11 / pre para- 

ample or the baviour is to be proposed to the faithful. Before tion. 

he gave to his Apostles the Sacrament of his body and blood, 
although they were already clean, he washed their feet, to de 
clare that we must use extreme diligence to bring with us to its 
participation the greatest integrity and innocence of soul. In 

i Luke xix. 9. 2 Matt. xiv. 36 and ix. 20. 3 1 Cor. xii. 31. 

* De corisecr. dist. 2. can. 46 sess. 13. cap. 8. 1 Cor. xi. 29. 

6 In Joan, tract. 16. et contra Donat. lib. 5. c. 8. 1 Cor. xi. 29. 

Gal. v. 6. 9 1 Cor. xi. 28. "> Matt. xxii. 11 


168 Tlie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

the next place, the faithful are to understand that as he who ap 
proaches thus prepared and disposed, is adorned with the most 
ample gifts of heavenly grace, so on the contrary, he who ap 
proaches without this preparation and without these disposi 
tions, not only derives from it no advantage, but plunges his 
own soul into the most unutterable misery. It is the property 
of the best and most salutary medicine, if seasonably applied, 
to be productive of the greatest benefit, but if unseasonably, to 
prove most pernicious and destructive. It cannot, therefore, 
excite our surprise, that the great and exalted gifts of God, when 
received into a soul properly predisposed, are of the greatest 
assistance towards the attainment of salvation ; whilst to those 
who receive them without these necessary dispositions, they 
bring with them eternal death. Of this, the Ark of the Lord 
affords a convincing illustration: the people of Israel possessed 
nothing more precioas ; it was to them the source of innume 
rable blessings from God ; but, when borne off by the Philis 
tines, it brought on them a most destructive plague and the 
heaviest calamities, heightened, as they were, by eternal dis 
grace. 1 Food when received into a healthy stomach nourishes 
and supports the body ; but the same food, when received into 
a stomach replete with peccant humours, generates malignant 
disease. 8 

The first preparation, then, which the faithful should make, 
is to distinguish table from table, this sacred table from profane 
tables, 3 this celestial bread from common bread. This we do 
when we firmly believe, that the Eucharist really and truly con 
tains the body and blood of the Lord, of him whom the angels 
adore in heaven, "at whose nod the pillars of heaven fear and 
tremble," 4 of whose glory the heavens and the earth are full. 5 
This is to discern the body of the Lord, in accordance with the 
admonition of the Apostle, 8 venerating rather, the greatness of 
the mystery, than too curiously investigating its truth by idle 

Second, disquisjtion. Another very necessary preparation is to ask our 
selves, if we are at peace with, if we sincerely and from the 
heart love our neighbour. " If, therefore, thou oflferest thy 
gift at the altar, and there rememberest, that thy brother hath 
aught against thee, leave there thy offering before the altar, and 
go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou 

Third s halt offer thy gift." 7 We should in the next place, carefully 
examine our consciences, lest perhaps they be defiled by mortal 
guilt, which sincere repentance alone can efface. This severe 
scrutiny is necessary in order to cleanse the soul from its defile 
ment, by applying to it the salutary medicine of contrition and 
confession. The Council of Trent has defined, that no one 

First pre 
paration ; 

1 1 Kings v. toto. 

2 De preeparatione ad Euch. requisite vide Trid, sens. 13. c. 7. et can. 11. Basil, 
q. 172. regul. brev. et serm. 2. de hapt. Cyprian, toto fere lib. de Lapsis, agendo do 
Pcenit. Aug. serni. 1. de Temj. Chrys. horn. 44, 45, 46. in Joan, et in Matt. horn. 83 

3 1 Cor. x. 21. < Job xxvi. 11. * Isa. vi. 3 
6 1 Cor. xi. 29. Matt v. 24, 25. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 1 69 

conscious of mortal sin, and having an opportunity of recurring 
to a confessor, however contrite he may deem himself, is to ap 
proach the Holy Eucharist, until he has been purified by sacra 
mental confession. 1 We should also reflect in the silence of our Fourth, 
own hearts, how unworthy we are that God should bestow on 
us this divine gift, and with the Centurion, of whom our Lord 
declared, that he found not " so great faith in Israel," we should 
exclaim : " Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter 
under my roof." 3 We should also put the question to ourselves, Fifth, 
whether we can truly say with Peter : " Lord, thou knowest 
that I love thee ;" 3 and should recollect, that he who sat down 
at the marriage feast without a nuptial garment, was cast into 
exterior darkness, and condemned to eternal torments. 4 

Our preparation should not, however, be confined to the soul : Sixth, 
it should also extend to the body. We are to approach the 
Holy Eucharist fasting, having neither eaten nor drunk, at least 
from the preceding midnight. 5 The dignity of so great a Sa 
crament also demands, that married persons abstain from the 
marriage-debt, for some days previous to communion, an ob 
servance recommended by the example of David, who, when 
about to receive the show-bread from the hands of the priest, 
declared, that he and his servants had been " clean from women 
for three days." 8 These particulars contain a summary of the 
principal things to be observed by the faithful, preparatory to 
receiving the sacred mysteries ; and to these heads may be re 
duced, whatever other preparations piety will suggest to the 
devout communicant. 7 

But that none may be deterred by the difficulty of the prepa- All bound 
ration from approaching the Holy Eucharist, the faithful are to comma- 
frequently to be reminded that they are all bound to receive ^year^at 06 
this Sacrament; and that the Church has decreed that whoever Easter 
neglects to approach the holy communion once a year, at Easter, 
subjects himself to sentence of excommunication. 8 However, Importance 
let not the faithful imagine that it is enough to receive the body of frequent 
of the Lord once a year only, in obedience to the decree of the 
Church : they should approach oftener ; but whether monthly, 
weekly, or daily, cannot be decided by any fixed universal rule. 
St. Augustine, however, lays down a most certain rule applicable 
to all "Live," says he, " in such a manner as to be able to re 
ceive every day." 8 It will therefore be the duty of the pastor 
frequently to admonish the faithful, that as they deem it neces 
sary to afford daily nutriment to the body, they should also feel 

Sess. 13. can. 11. Chrys. horn. 30, in Genes, et 20. in Matth. Cypr. in lib. de 

2 Matt. viii. 8. 10. 3 j o hn xxi. 15. < Matt. xxii. 12, 13. 

* Vid. Aug. epist. 118. e. 6. etlib. inquis. Januarii c. 6. 

6 1 Kings xxi. 3 4, 5. 

7 Greg, in responsione 10. ad interrog. Aug. et hab. 33. q. 4, c. 7. Aug. serm. 2. 
de temp, et 2, 4. 

Concil. Lat c. 28. et habetur lib. 5. Decret. tit. de Pcenit. et remiss, cap. omnis 
utriusque sexus.Trid. sess. 13, 9. 

9 St. Aug. de verbis Domini, ser. 28, qui desumptus est ex. Arab. lib. 5. de 
sacram. c. 4. 

15 Y 


Daily com 
the prac 
tice of the 

Thrice a 
year, sub 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

solicitous to feed and nourish the soul every day with this hea 
venly food. The soul stands not less in need of spiritual, than 
the body of corporal food. Here it will be found most useful 
to recapitulate the inestimable advantages which, as we have 
already shown, flow from sacramental communion, and the 
manna also which was a figure of this Sacrament, and of which 
the Israelites had occasion to partake every day, may be used 
as a further illustration. 1 The Fathers, who earnestly recom 
mended the frequent participation of this Sacrament, may be 
adduced as additional authority to enforce the necessity of fre 
quent communion ; and the words, " thou sinnest daily, receive 
daily," convey the sentiments not alone of St. Augustine, but 
of all the Fathers who have written on the subject. 3 

That there was a time when the faithful approached the Holy 
Communion every day, we learn from the Acts of the Apostles. 
All who then professed the faith of Christ, burned with such 
pure and ardent charity, that devoting themselves, as they did 
unceasingly, to prayer and other works of piety, 3 they were 
found prepared to communicate daily. This devout practice, 
which seems to have been interrupted for a time, was again 
partially revived by Pope Anacletus, a most holy martyr, who 
commanded, that all the ministers who assisted at the holy sa 
crifice, should communicate, an ordinance, as the Pontiff declares, 
of Apostolic institution. 4 It was also for a long time the prac 
tice of the Church, that, as soon as the sacrifice was ended, the 
priest, turning to the congregation, invited the faithful to the 
holy table in these words : " Come, brethren, and receive the 
communion ;" and those who were prepared, advanced to re 
ceive the holy mysteries with hearts animated by the most fer 
vent devotion. 5 But subsequently, when charity and devotion 
declined amongst Christians, and the faithful very seldom ap 
proached the holy communion, it was decreed by Pope Fabian, 
that all should communicate thrice every year, at Christmas, at 
Easter, and at Pentecost, a decree which was afterwards con 
firmed by many Councils, particularly by the first of Agath. 6 
Such, at length, was the decay of piety, that not only was this 
holy and salutary practice unobserved, but communion was de 
ferred for years. The Council of Lateran, therefore, decreed 
that all the faithful should communicate, at least, once a year, 
at Easter, and that the omission should be chastised by exclu- 

1 Exod. xvi. 21, 22. 

2 Ad frequentem communionem hortantur Auguatin. de verbis Domini serm. 28. 
sed hie sermo cum nonsit August, sed Ambr. lib. 5. de sacram c. 4. rejectus est in 
appendicem tomi 10. item vide eundem Aug. Epist. 118. c. 3. item, Ignat. ad Kphes. 
satis ante finem. Basil. Epist. ad Cajsar. patr. Ambr. lib. 3. de sacr. c. 4. Chrysost. 
horn. 61. ad pop. Antioch. Cypr. de Ora. Dominica ad hffic verba, panem nostram 
quot Hieron. Epist. 28, ad Lucin. vers. finem. Cyril, c. 3. in Joan. c. 37. vide etiarn 
de consecr. dist. 2. per multa capita hac de re. 

3 Acts ii. 42. 46. 4 De consec. dist 2, c. 10. 

5 De quotidiana communione vide Dionys. de Eccles. Hierarch. c. 3, parte 2, 
Hieron. Epist. 28, ad Luein.Greg. lib. 2, dialog, c. 23. Item vide lib. de Eccl dog- 
mat, c. 53, et citatur de consec. dist. 2, c. 13. 

6 Fab. decret habes de cons. dist. 2. c. 16. et ib. citatur Concil. Agathensc c. 18. 
c. saeculares. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 171 

sion from the society of the faithful. 1 But although this law, To whom 
sanctioned, as it is, by the authority of God and of his Church, H^, ^/ 1 ^ 
regards all the faithful, the pastor, however, will teach that it law ex 
does not extend to persons who have not arrived at the years tends. 
of discretion, because they are incapable of discerning the Holy 
Eucharist from common food, and cannot bring with them to 
this Sacrament, the piety and devotion which it demands. To 
extend the precept to them would appear inconsistent with the 
institution of this Sacrament by our Lord: "Take," says he, 
" and eat," a words which cannot apply to infants, who are evi 
dently incapable of taking and eating. In some places, it is 
true, an ancient practice prevailed of giving the Holy Eucharist TheEu- 
even to infants ; 3 but, for the reasons already assigned, and for char ^t an 
other reasons most consonant to Christian piety, this practice given to in- 
has been long discontinued by authority of the same Church. fants - 
With regard to the age at which children should be admitted to 
communion, this the parents and confessor can best determine : 
to them it belongs to ascertain whether the children have ac 
quired a competent knowledge of this admirable Sacrament, and 
desire to taste this bread of angels. 

From persons labouring under actual insanity the Sacrament When to 
should also be withheld. However, according to the decree of be . g |ven ; 

i /i -i f t~t i i when not 

the Council of Carthage, it may be administered to them at the to be given 
close of life, provided they had evinced, previously to their in- to insane 
sanity, a sincerely pious desire of being admitted to its partici- ^ r 
pation, and if no danger arising from the state of the stomach 
or other inconvenience or indignity, is to be apprehended. 4 

As to the rite to be observed in the administration of this Sa- To be re 
crament, the pastor will teach that the law of the Church inter- ^g^u^u 11 
diets its administration under both kinds to any but to the offi- kinds by 
ciating priest, unless by special permission of the Church. tne offitia 
Christ, it is true, as has been explained by the Council of o nflfand 
Trent, 5 instituted and administered to his Apostles, at his last why. 
supper, this great Sacrament under both kinds ; but it does not 
follow of necessity, that by doing so he established a law ren 
dering its administration to the faithful under both species impe 
rative. Speaking of this sacrament he himself frequently men 
tions it under one kind only : " If," says he, " any man eat of 
this bread, he shall live for ever, and the bread that I will give 
is my flesh for the life of the world," and, " He that eateth this 
bread shall live for ever." 8 The Church, no doubt, was influ 
enced by numerous and cogent reasons, not only to approve but 
confirm by solemn decree, the general practice of communica 
ting under one species. In the first place, the greatest caution \ 

1 Citat. lib. 5. deer. tit. de peen. et remiss, c. omnes utriusque sexus. 

2 Matt. xxvi. 26. 3 Cypr. de Lapsis post med. 4 Cone. Cath. 4. 76. 
s Sess>. 21. decem. sub utraque specie can. 1. 2. 3. 

6 John vi. 52. 59. Unius tantum speciei usum suflicere ad perfectam commu- 
nionem colliges ex Tertull. lib. 2. ad uxorem. Cypr. de Lapsis. Orig. horn. 13. in Ex- 
od. Basil, epist. ad Caesar, patr. Aug. ep. 86. Hier. in Apol. ad Pammach. Chrysost. 
torn. 41. operis imperf. in Matth. 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 





was necessary to avoid accident or indignity, which must be 
come almost inevitable, if the chalice were administered in a 
crowded assemblage. In the next place, the Holy Eucharist 
should be at all times in readiness for the sick, and if the spe 
cies of wine remained long unconsumed, it were to be appre 
hended that it may become vapid. Besides, there are many 
who cannot bear the taste or smell of wine ; lest, therefore, 
what is intended for the nutriment of the soul should prove nox 
ious to the health of the body, the Church, in her wisdom, has 
sanctioned its administration under the species of bread alone. 
We may also observe that in many places wine is extremely 
scarce, nor can it be brought from distant countries without in 
curring very heavy expense, and encountering very tedious and 
difficult journeys. Finally, a circumstance which principally 
influenced the Church in establishing this practice, means were 
to be devised to crush the heresy which denied that Christ, 
whole and entire, is contained under either species, and asserted 
that the body is contained under the species of bread without 
the blood, and the blood under the species of wine without the 
body. This object was attained by communion under the spe 
cies of bread alone, which places, as it were, sensibly before 
our eyes, the truth of the Catholic faith. Those who have writ 
ten expressly on this subject, will, if it appear necessary, fur 
nish the pastor with additional reasons for the practice of the 
Catholic Church in the administration of the Holy Eucharist. 
To omit nothing doctrinal on so important a subject, we now 
come to speak of the minister of the sacrament, a point, how 
ever, on which scarcely any one is ignorant. The pastor then 
will teach, that to priests alone has been given power to con 
secrate and administer the Holy Eucharist. That the unvary 
ing practice of the Church has also been, that the faithful re 
ceive the Sacrament from the hand of the priest, and that the 
priest communicate himself, has been explained by the Council 
of Trent;" 1 and the same holy Council has shown that this 
practice is always to be scrupulously adhered to, stamped, as it 
is, with the authoritative impress of Apostolic tradition, and 
sanctioned by the illustrious example of our Lord himself, who, 
with his own hands, consecrated and gave to his disciples, his 
most sacred body. 9 

To consult as much as possible, for the dignity of this so au- 

gust a Sacrament, not only is its administration confined exclu- 

the sacred sively to the priestly order, but the Church has also, by an ex- 
vessels, press law, prohibited any but those who are consecrated to re 
ligion, unless in case of necessity, to touch the sacred vessels, 
tho linen, or other immediate necessaries for consecration. 
Priests and people may hence learn what piety and holiness 
Efficacy of they should possess who consecrate, administer, or receive the 
r\ai noTaf^" Holy of Holies. The Eucharist, however, as was observed 
fec ed by with regard to the other Sanraments, whether administered by 

til me, the 
of the Eu 

The laity 
to touch 

Sess. 13, c. 10. 

2 Matt. xxvi. 26. Matt. xiv. 23 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 1 75 

holy or unholy hands, is equally valid. It is of faith that the the merit 
efficacy of the Sacraments does not depend on *he merit of the f th^" 1 
minister, but on the virtue and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, nister. 

With regard to the Eucharist as a Sacrament, these are the TheEu- 
principal points which demanded explanation. Its nature as a 
sacrifice we now come to explain, that pastors may know what 
are the principal instructions to be communicated to the faithful 
regarding this mystery, on Sundays and holidays, in compli 
ance with the decree of the Council of Trent. 1 Not only is 
this Sacrament a treasure of heavenly riches, which if we turn 
to good account will purchase for us the favour and friendship 
of heaven ; but it also possesses the peculiar and extraordinary 
value, that in it we are enabled to make some suitable return to 
God for the inestimable benefits bestowed on us by his bounty. 
If duly and legitimately offered, this victim is most grateful and 
most acceptable to God. If the sacrifices of the old law, of 
which it is written: "Sacrifices and oblations thou wouldst 
not :" 3 and also, " If thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would, in 
deed, have given it : with burnt-offering thou wilt not be de 
lighted," 3 were so acceptable in his sight that, as the Scripture 
testifies, from them " he smelt a sweet savour," 4 that is to say, 
they were grateful and acceptable to him ; what have we not 
to hope from the efficacy of a sacrifice in which is immolated 
and offered no less a victim than he, of whom a voice from 
heaven twice proclaimed: "This is my beloved Son, in whom 
I am well pleased." 5 This mystery, therefore, the pastor will 
carefully explain to the people, that when assembled at its cele 
bration, they may learn to make it the subject of attentive and 
devout meditation. 

He will teach, in the first place, that the Eucharist was insti- Instituted 
tuted by our Lord for two great purposes, to be the celestial 
food of the soul, preserving and supporting spiritual life, and to 
give to the Church a perpetual sacrifice, by which sin may be 
expiated, and our heavenly Father, whom our crimes have often 
grievously offended, may be turned from wrath to mercy, from 
the severity of just vengeance to the exercise of benignant 
clemency. Of this the paschal lamb, which was offered and 
eaten by the Israelites as a sacrament and sacrifice, was a lively 
figure. 8 Nor could our divine Lord, when about to offer him- Reflection 
self to his eternal Father on the altar of the cross, have given 
a more illustrious proof of his unbounded love for us, than by 
bequeathing to us a visible sacrifice, by which the bloody sa 
crifice, which, a little after, was to be offered once on the cross, 
was to be renewed, and its memory celebrated daily throughout 
the universal Church even to the consummation of time, to the 
great advantage of her children. 

The difference between the Eucharist as a sacrament and The difle- 
.sacrifice is very great, and is two-fold : as a sacrament it is per- [^ 

Seas. 22. princip. c. 8 2 Pa. xim. 7. J Pa. 1. 18. < Gen viii. 21 . 

Mattiii. 17. 6Deut. 16. 


174 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Eucharist fected by consecration, as a sacrifice all its efficacy consists in 
menumd" its blation. When deposited in a tabernacle, or borne to the 
sacrifice, sick, it is, therefore, a sacrament, not a sacrifice. As a sacra- 
two-fold, ment, it is also to the worthy receiver a source of merit, and 
brings with it all those advantages which we have already men 
tioned ; as a sacrifice it is not only a source of merit, but also 
of satisfaction. As, in his passion, our Lord merited and satis 
fied for us, so in the oblation of this sacrifice, which is a bond 
of Christian unity, Christians merit the fruit of his passion, 
and satisfy for sin. 

This sacri- With regard to the institution of this sacrifice, the Council of 
and by ^ reni has obviated all doubt on the subject, by declaring that 
whom in- it was instituted by our Lord at his last supper, whilst it de 
stituted, nounces anathema against all who assert that in it is not offered 
to God a true and proper sacrifice ; or that to offer means no 
thing more than that Christ gives himself to be our spiritual 
Sacrifice food. 1 That sacrifice is due to God alone, the holy Council 
alone? also states in the clearest terms. 3 The solemn sacrifice of the 
Mass is, it is true, sometimes offered to honour the memory of 
the Saints ; but it is never offered to them, but to Him alone 
who has crowned them with unfading glory. Never does the 
officiating minister say : " I offer sacrifice to thee, Peter, or to 
thee, Paul ;" but whilst he offers sacrifice to God alone, he ren 
ders him thanks for the signal victories won by the nuirtyib, and 
implores their patronage, " that they whose memory we cele 
brate on earth, may vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven." 3 
The doctrine of the Catholic Church with regard to this sacri 
fice, she received from our Lord, when at his last supper, com 
mitting to his Apostles the sacred mysteries, he said : " This 
do, for a commemoration of me." 4 He then, as the holy Sy 
nod has defined, ordained them priests, and commanded them 
and their successors in the ministry, to immolate and offer in 
sacrifice his precious body and blood. 5 Of this the words of 
the Apostle to the Corinthians also afford sufficient evidence : 
"You cannot," says he, "drink the chalice of the Lord, 
and the chalice of devils : you cannot be partakers of the table 
of the Lord, and of the table of devils." As then, by the " table 
of devils," we understand the altar upon which sacrifice was 
offered to them; so by "the table of the Lord," to bring the 
words of the Apostle to an apposite conclusion, should be un 
derstood the altar on which sacrifice was offered to the Lord. 
Figures Should we look for figures and prophecies of this sacrifice 

a hecieTof * n ^ ^ lc * r ^ estament vvc mitl > in the first place, that its insti- 
?his s acri- tution was clearly foretold by Malachy in these words : " From 
fi"e. the rising of the sun, even to the going down thereof, my name 

1 Vid..Trid. de Sacrif Missse c. 1. 3. Dionys. lib. 17, de Eccles. c. 3. T^nat. epist 
ad Smyrn. Tort lib. de Orat Iren. lib. 4. c. 32. Aug. lib. 10. de Civit. D;-" ; , e. 10. et 
lib. 17. c. 20. et i; b. 18. c. 35. et lib. 10. c. 13. et lib. 22. c. 8. et alibi pnssim. Vide 
etiam. Sess. 22. : e sacrifin. Missas, c. 1. et can. 1 anil 2. 

2 Trid. Synod, sess. 21. c. 3. 3 Aucr. contra Faust, lib. 20. c. 21. 

4 Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 24. 5 Cone. Trid. sess. 22. c. 1. t, I Cor. x. 21. 

On the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 175 

is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacri 
fice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation : for my 
name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts." 1 
This saving victim was also foretold, as well before as after the 
promulgation of the Mosaic law, by a variety of sacrifices ; for 
this alone, as the perfection and completion of all, comprises all 
the advantages which were typified by the other sacrifices. In 
none of the sacrifices of the old law, however, do we discover 
a more lively image of the Eucharistic sacrifice than in that of 
Melchisedech. 3 Our Lord himself, at his last Supper, offered 
to his Eternal father his precious body and blood under the 
appearances of bread and wine, at the same time declaring 
himself, " a priest for ever according to the order of Melchise 
dech." 3 

We, therefore, confess that the sacrifice of the Mass is one The sacn- 
and the same sacrifice with that of the cross : the victim is one j^ e of ^ he 
and the same, Christ Jesus, who offered himself, once only, a sa me with 
bloody sacrifice on the altar of the cross. The bloody and un- that of the 
bloody victim is still one and the same, and the oblation of the cross 
cross is daily renewed in the eucharistic sacrifice, in obedience to 
the command of our Lord : " This do, for a commemoration 
of me." 4 The priest is also the same, Christ our Lord: the 
ministers who offer this sacrifice, consecrate the holy mysteries 
not in their own but in the person of Christ. This the words of 
consecration declare : the priest does not say : " This is the body 
of Christ," but, " This is my body ;" and thus invested with the 
character of Christ, he changes the substance of the bread and wine 
into the substance of his real body and blood. 3 That the holy 
sacrifice of the Mass, therefore, is not only a sacrifice of praise The Mass, 
and thanksgiving, or a commemoration of the sacrifice of the a sacrifice 
cross ; but also a sacrifice of propitiation, by which God is ap- thanks- 
peased and rendered propitious, the pastor will teach as a dogma g vir )g an(1 
defined by the unerring authority of a general Council ofthe fton 1 " 1 " 1 " 
Church. 6 If, therefore, with pure hearts and a lively faith, and 
with a sincere sorrow for past transgressions, we immolate and 
offer in sacrifice this most holy victim, we shall, no doubt, re 
ceive from the Lord " mercy and grace in seasonable aid." 7 So 
acceptable to God is the sweet odour of this sacrifice, that through 
its oblation he pardons our sins, bestowing on us the gifts of 
grace and of repentance. This is the solemn prayer of the Church : 
as often as the commemoration of this victim is celebrated, so 
often is the work of our salvation promoted, and the plenteous 
fruits cf that bloody victim flow in upon us abundantly, through 
this unbloody sacrifice. 

The pastor will also teach, that such is the effic-cy of this Available 
acrifice, that its benefits extend not only to the celebrant and to the liv- 

Malach. i. 11. 2 Gen. xiv. 18. 3 Heb. vii. 17. J s. cue. 4. 

Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 24. 

5 Chrys. horn. 2. in 2. ad Timoth. et horn, de prod. Judse. Ambr. lib. 4. de Sa- 
cram. c. 4. 6 Trident, sess. 22. de sacrif Missee, c. 2. et can. 3. 

7 llebr. iv. 16. 

176 TJie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

ing and the communicant, but also to all the faithful whether living or num- 
dead : bered amongst those who have died in the Lord, but whose sins 
have not yet been fully expiated. According to apostolic tra 
dition the most authentic, it is not less available when offered 
for them than when offered in atonement for the sins, in alle 
viation of the punishments, the satisfactions, the calamities, or 
Common to for the relief of the necessities, of the living. 1 It is hence easy 
J! 1 ! *e to perceive, that the mass, whenever and wherever offered, be 
cause conducive to the common interest* and salvation of all, is 
to be considered common to all the faithful. 

Its rites and This great sacrifice is celebrated with many solemn rites and 
ceremo- ceremonies : of these rites and ceremonies let none be deemed 
useless or superfluous : all oh the contrary tend to display the 
majesty of this august sacrifice, and to excite the faithful, by the 
celebration of these saving mysteries, to the contemplation of 
the divine things which lie concealed in the eucharistic sacrifice. 
On these rites and ceremonies we shall not enter at large : they 
require a more lengthened exposition than is compatible with 
the nature of the present work ; and the pastor has it in his 
power to consult on the subject, a variety of treatises composed 
by men eminent alike for piety and learning. What has been 
said will, with the divine assistance, be found sufficient to ex 
plain the principal things which regard the Holy Eucharist both 
as a sacrament and sacrifice. 


Necessity As the frailty and weakness of human nature are universally 
ofthesa- known and felt, no one can be ignorant of the paramount ne- 
Penance f cessity of the Sacrament of Penance. If, therefore, in the ex 
position of the different matters of instruction, we are to mea 
sure the assiduity of the pastor by the weight and importance 
of the subject, we must come to the conclusion that, in ex 
pounding this Sacrament, he can never be sufficiently assiduous. 
Its exposition demands an accuracy superior to that of baptism. 
Baptism is administered but once, and cannot be repeated; 
penance may be administered and becomes necessary, as often 
as we may have sinned after baptism, according to the defini 
tion of the Fathers of Trent. " For those who fall into sin 
after baptism," say they, " the sacrament of penance is as ne 
cessary to salvation, as is baptism for those who have not 
been already baptized." 3 On this subject the words of St. Je 
rome, which say, that penance is " a second plank," 8 are uni 
versally known, and highly commended by all who have written 

Trid. Synod, sess. 22. cap. 206, 

2 Sess. 6. de Just. rap. 14. et Sess. 14. de poenit. cap. 3. in 3 cap. 

Hieron. ad haec verba, Ruit Hierusalem, et epistola 8. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 177 

on this Sacrament. As he who suffers shipwreck has no hope 
of safety, unless, perchance, he seize on some plank from the 
wreck; so he that suffers the shipwreck of baptismal innocence, 
unless he cling to the saving plank of penance, may abandon 
all hope of salvation. These instructions, however, are intended 
not only for the benefit of the pastor, but also for that of the 
faithful at large, whose attention they may awaken, lest they 
be found culpably negligent in a matter of all others the most 
important. Impressed with a just sense of the frailty of human 
nature, their first and most earnest desire should be, to advance, 
with the divine assistance, in the ways of God, flying sin of 
every sort. But should they, at any time, prove so unfortunate 
as to fall, then, looking at the infinite goodness of God, who 
like the good shepherd binds up and heals the wounds of his 
sheep, they should have immediate recourse to the sacrament 
of penance, that by its salutary and medicinal efficacy their 
wounds may be healed. 1 

But to enter more immediately on the subject, and to avoid Different 
all error to which the ambiguity of the word may give rise, its 
different meanings are first to be explained. By penance some penance, 
understand satisfaction ; whilst others, who wander far from the 
doctrine of the Catholic faith, supposing penance to have no 
reference to the past, define it to be nothing more than newness 
of life. The pastor, therefore, will teach that the word (poani- 
tentia) has a variety of meanings. In the first place, it is used 1 
to express a change of mind ; as when, without taking into ac 
count the nature of the object, whether good or bad, what was 
before pleasing, is now become displeasing to us. In this sense 
the Apostle makes use of the word, when he applies it to those, 
" whose sorrow is according to the world, not according to 
God ; and therefore, worketh not salvation, but death." 2 In li 
the second place, it is used to express that sorrow which the 
sinner conceives for sin, not however for sake of God, but 
for his own sake. A third meaning is when we experience in. 
interior sorrow of heart, or give ,exterior indication of such sor 
row, not only on account of the sins which we have committed, 
but also for sake of God alone whom they offend. To all 
these sorts of sorrow the word (poenitentia) properly applies. 

When the Sacred Scriptures say that God repented, 3 the ex- In what 
pression is evidently figurative : when we repent of any thing, ? ens ? G 
we are anxious to change it ; and thus, when God is said to repent 

1 Ezech. xxxiv. 16. De Poenitentia e patribus antiquis scripserunt Tertul. librura 
unum. Cypr. epistolas plures et unum lib. de Lapsis, Pacianus lib- unum et duas 
epistolas ad Symproniam, ac de poenit. et confession, seu paran. ad pocnit. Ambros. 
libros duos poenit. Chrysost. Homilias 10. et sermon, de poenit. Ephrem. lib. et ser 
mon, de poenit. Fulgentius lib. 2. de remission, peccatorum ad Euthymiurn, et 
sess. 14. de poenit. cap. 3. Greg. Nyssenus orationem de poenit. Basil, homil. imam 
quse est postrema variarum, Augustin. denique lib. unum de vera et falsa poeni 
tentia, et librum insignem de poenitentise medicina. His adde Marcum Eremitam 
cujus extat de poenitent. liber unus, sed caute legendus : de eo vide Bellarmin. de 
Script Eccles. Qui non habet Patres supra citatos, videat in Decreta Gratiani de 
poenitent. 7. distinctiones. 

2 2 Cor, vii. 10. 3 Gen. vi.6. 1 Kings xv. 11. Ps. cv. 45. Jer. xxvi. 3. 


)78 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

change any thing, the Scriptures, accommodating their language 
to our ideas, say that he repents. Thus we read that " it re 
pented him that he had made man," 1 and also that it repented 
him to have made Saul king. 3 

Meaningof But an important distinction is to be made between these dif- 

penance ferent significations of the word: to repent, in its first meaning, 

argues imperfection in its second, the agitation of a disturbed 

mind in the third, penance is a virtue and a sacrament, the 

sense in which it is here used. 

Peiv^ceas We shall first treat of penance as a virtue, not only because 
" * ie- it is the bounden duty of the pastor to form the faithful, with 
whose instruction he is charged, to the practice of every virtue ; 
but also, because the acts which proceed from penance as a vir 
tue, constitute the matter, as it were, of penance as a sacrament; 
and if ignorant of it in this latter sense, impossible not to be 
ignorant also of its efficacy as a sacrament. The faithful, there 
fore, are first to be admonished and exhorted to labour strenu 
ously to attain this interior penance of the heart, which we call 
a virtue, and without which exterior penance can avail them 
very little. 3 This virtue consists in turning to God sincerely 
and from the heart, and in hating and detesting our past trans 
gressions, with a firm resolution of amendment of life, hoping 
to obtain pardon through the mercy of God. It is accompanied 
with a sincere sorrow, which is an agitation and affection of the 
mind, and is called by many a passion, and if accompanied with 
Supposes detestation, is, as it were, the companion of sin. It must, how 
ever, be preceded by faith, for without faith no man can turn to 
God. Faith, therefore, cannot on any account be called a part 
Proved to of penance. 4 That this inward affection of the soul is, as we 
ne a virtue, have already said, a virtue, the various precepts which enforce 
its necessity prove ; for precepts regp.rd those actions only, the 
H- performance of which implies virtue. Besides, to experience 
a sense of sorrow at the time, in the manner, and to the extent 
which are consonant to reason and religion, is no doubt an ex 
ercise of virtue : and this sorrow is regulated by the virtue of 
penance. Some conceive a sorrow which bears no proportion 
to the enormity of their crimes : " There are some," says So 
lomon, " who are glad when they have done evil ;" 5 whilst 
others, on the contrary, consign themselves to such morbid 
melancholy and to such a deluge of grief, as utterly to abandon 
all hope of salvation. Such perhaps was the condition of Cain 
when he exclaimed : " My iniquity is greater than that I may 
deserve pardon :" 6 such certainly was the condition of Judas, 
who, " repenting," hanged himself in despair, and thus sacri 
ficed soul and body. 7 Penance, therefore, considered as a 

i Gen. vL 6. 2 1 Kings xv. 11. 

3 Vide Amb. in sermone de pcen. et citatur. de poenit. dist. 3. cap. poenitentm. 
Aug. lib. de vera et felsa poen. c. 8. et habetur de pcen. 3. c. 4. Greg. horn. 34. in 
Kvang. et lib. 9. Kegist. Epist. 39. 

4 Trid. Sess. 14. de poen. c. 3, can. 4. 

15 Prov. ii. H. 6 Gen. iv. 13. 7 Matt. Txvii. 3. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 17U 

virtue, assists us in restraining within the bounds of moderation 
our sense of sorrow. 

That penance is a virtue may also be inferred from the ends IH. 
which the penitent proposes to himself. The first is to destroy 
sin and efface from the soul its every spot and stain ; the se 
cond, to make satisfaction to God for the sins which he has 
committed, and this is an act of justice towards God. Be 
tween God and man, it is true, no relation of strict justice 
can exist, so great is the distance between the Creator and 
the creature ; yet between both there is evidently a sort of 
justice, such as exists between a father and his children, be 
tween a master and his servants. The third end is, to rein 
state himself in the favour and friendship of God whom he has 
offended, and whose hatred he has earned by the turpitude of 
sin. That penance is a virtue, these three ends which the 
penitent proposes to himself, sufficiently prove. 

We must also point out the steps, by which we may ascend The de- 
to this divine virtue. The mercy of God first prevents us and gr f? 8 h by 
converts our hearts to him ; this was the object of the pro- altaTn this 
phet s prayer : " Convert us, O Lord ! and we shall be con- virtue. 
verted." 1 Illumined by this celestial light the soul next tends 
to God by faith : " He that cometh to God," says the Apostle, II. 
must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek 
iiim." 3 A salutary fear of God s judgments follows, and the soul, IH 
fontemplating the punishments that await sin, is recalled from 
die paths of vice: "As a woman with child," says Isaias, 
when she draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain 
md crieth out in her pangs ; so are we become in thy presence, 
Lord !" 3 We are also animated with a hope of obtaining IV 
mercy from God, and cheered by this hope we resolve on a 
ehange of life. Lastly, our hearts are inflamed by charity ; and V. 
ence we conceive that filial fear which a dutiful and ingenuous 
-hild experiences towards a parent. Thus, dreading only to 
dtfend the majesty of God in any thing, we entirely abandon the 
ways of sin. These are, as it were, the steps by which we 
tscend to this most exalted virtue, a virtue altogether heavenly Heaven 
uid divine, to which the Sacred Scriptures promise the inheri- the rewanl 
once of heaven : " Do penance," says the Redeemer, " for the f penance 
Kingdom of heaven is at hand :"* " If," says the prophet Eze- 
kiel, " the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath 
committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment 
and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die :" 5 " I desire 
not, saith the Lord, the death of the wicked, but that the wicked 
turn from his way and live ;" 6 words which are evidently un 
derstood of eternal life. 

With regard to external penance, the pastor will teach that it Penance as 
is that which constitutes the sacrament of penance : it consists a sacra - 
of certain sensible things significant of that which passes inte- crament 

1 Jerem. xxxi. 18. 2 Heb. xi. 6. 3 r sa . xxv j ]7 

< Matt iv. 17. s Ezek. xviii. 21. B zek. xx xiii. 11. 

180 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

\Vhy insti- riorly in the soul ; and the faithful are to be informed, in the 
first place, why the Redeemer was pleased to give it a place 
among the Sacraments. His object was, no doubt, to remove, 
in a great measure, all uncertainty as to the pardon of sin pro 
mised by our Lord when he said : " If the wicked do penance 
for all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all my com 
mandments, and do judgment and justice, living he shall live, 
and shall not die." 1 Pronouncing upon his own actions, every 
man has reason to question the accuracy of his own judgment, 
and hence, on the sincerity of interior penance the mind must 
be held in anxious suspense. To calm this our solicitude, the 
Redeemer instituted the sacrament of penance, in which we 
cherish a well founded hope, that our sins are forgiven us by 
the absolution of the priest, and the faith which we justly have 
in the efficacy of the Sacraments, has much influence in tran 
quillizing the troubled conscience and giving peace to the soul. 
The voice of the priest, who is legitimately constituted a minis 
ter for the remission of sins, is to be heard as that of Christ 
himself, who said to the lame man : " Son, be of good cheer, 
thy sins are forgiven thee." 2 

jl. Moreover, as salvation is unattainable but through Christ and 

the merits of his passion, the institution of this sacrament was 
in itself accordant to the views of divine wisdom, and pregnant 
with blessings to the Christian. Penance is the channel through 
which the blood of Christ flows into the soul, washes away 
the stains contracted after baptism, and calls forth from us the 
grateful acknowledgment, that to the Saviour alone we are in 
debted for the blessing of a reconciliation with God. 
I enance That penance is a sacrament the pastor will not find it diffi- 
proved to cu jt to establish : baptism is a sacrament because it washes 
iuent. Sa< * away all, particularly original sin : penance also washes away 
all sins of thought or deed committed after baptism ; on the 
same principle, therefore, penance is a sacrament. Again, and 
the argument is conclusive, a sacrament is the sign of a sacred 
thing, and what is done externally, by the priest and penitent, 
is a sign of what takes place, internally, in the soul : the peni 
tent unequivocally expresses, by words and actions, that he has 
turned away from sin : the priest, too, by words and actions, 
gives us easily to understand, that the mercy of God is exer 
cised in the remission of sin : this is, also, clearly evinced by 
these words of the Saviour : " I will give to thee the keys of 
the kingdom of heaven, whatever sins you loose on earth, shall 
be loosed, also, in heaven." 3 The absolution of the priest, 
which is expressed in words, seals, therefore, the remission of 
sins, which it accomplishes in the soul, and thus is penance in 
vested with all the necessary conditions of a sacrament, and is, 
therefore, truly a sacrament. 

That penance is not only to be numbered amongst the sacra- 

1 Ezek. xviii. 21. 

2 Matt. ix.2. Vid. Cone. Trid. sess. xiv. c. 1. in noc. 1. Epist. 91 inter epist Aug. 
Matt. xvi. ID. 

On the Sacran>.snt of Penance. 181 

ments, but amongst the sacraments that may be repeated, The sacra- 
the faithful are next to be taught. To Peter, asking if sin may jj^e ,,]^ 
be forgiven seven times, our Lord replies : " I say, not seven be repeat- 
times, but seventy times seven." 1 Whenever, therefore, the mi- ed - 
nistry of the priest is to be exercised towards those who seem 
to dilfide in the infinite goodness and mercy of God, the zealous 
pastor will seek to inspire them with confidence, and to reani 
mate their hopes of obtaining the grace of God. This he will 
find it easy to accomplish by expounding the preceding words 
of our Lord, by adducing other texts of the same import, which 
are to be found numerously scattered throughout the Sacred 
Volume ; and by adopting those reasons and arguments which 
are supplied by St. Chrysostome in his book " on the fallen," 
and by St. Ambrose in his treatise on penance. 2 

As, then, amongst the sacraments there is none on which the Its matter, 
faithful should be better informed, they are to be taught, that it 
differs from the other sacraments in this : the matter of the other 
sacraments is some production of nature or art ; but the acts of 
the penitent, contrition, confession, and satisfaction, constitute, 
as has been defined by the Council of Trent, the matter as it 
were (quasi materia) of the sacrament of penance. 3 They are 
called parts of penance., because required in the penitent, by di 
vine institution for the integrity of the Sacrament and the full 
and entire remission of sin. When the holy synod says, that 
they are " the matter as it were," it is not because they are not 
the real matter, but because they are not, like water in baptism 
and chrism in confirmation, matter that may be applied exter 
nally. With regard to the opinion of some, who hold that the Sins in 
sins themselves constitute the matter of this sacrament, if well what sense 
weighed, it will not be found to differ from what has been al 
ready laid down : we say that wood which is consumed by fire, 
is the matter of fire ; and sins which are destroyed by penance, 
may also be called, with propriety, the matter of penance. 

The form, also, because well calculated to excite the faithful, ts brm. 
to receive with fervent devotion the grace of this sacrament, the 
pastor will not omit to explain. The words that compose the 
form are : " I ABSOLVE THEE," as may be inferred not only 
from these words of the Redeemer : " Whatsoever you shall 
bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven ;" 4 but also from 
the same doctrine of Jesus Christ, as recorded by the Apostles. 
That this is the perfect form of the sacrament of penance, the 
very nature of the form of a sacrament proves. The form of a 
sacrament signifies what the sacrament accomplishes: these words 
"I absolve thee" signify the accomplishment of absolution from 
sin through the instrumentality of this sacrament ; they there 
fore constitute its form. Sins are, as it were, the chains by 

1 Matt, xviii. 22. 

2 Chrys. 1. 5. lib. de laps, repar. et habetur de poenit. dist. 3. c. talis. Amb. de 
pcenit. lib. 1. c, 1. et 2. vid. et Aug. lib. de vera et falsa poenit. c. 5. citatur de poe 
nit. dist c. 3. adhuc instant. 

3 Sess. 24. de poenit. c. 3. et can 4 4 Matt, xviii. 18. 



Why ac 
with pray 


The rites 
to be ob 
served in 
this sacra 

Its advan 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

which the soul is fettered, and from the bondage of which it is 
" loosed" by the sacrament of penance. This form is not less 
true, when pronounced by the priest over him, who by means 
of perfect contrition, has already obtained the pardon of his sins. 
Perfect contrition, it is true, reconciles the sinner to God, but 
his justification is not to be ascribed to perfect contrition alone, 
independently of the desire which it includes of receiving the 
sacrament of penance. Many prayers accompany the form, 
not because they are deemed necessary, but in order to remove 
every obstacle, which the unvvorthiness of the penitent may op 
pose to the efficacy of the sacrament. Let then the sinner pour 
out his heart in fervent thanks to God, who has invested the 
ministers of his Church with such ample powers ! Unlike the 
authority given to the priests of the Old Law, to declare the 
leper cleansed from his leprosy, 1 the power with which the 
priests of the New Law are invested, is not simply to declare 
that sins are forgiven, but, as the ministers of God, really to 
absolve from sin ; a power which God himself, the author and 
source of grace and justification, exercises through their mi 

The rites used in the administration of this sacrament, also 
demand the serious attention of the faithful. They will enable 
them to form a more just estimate of the blessings which it be 
stows, recollecting that as servants, they are reconciled to the 
best of masters, or rather, as children, to the tenderest of fa 
thers. They will, also, serve to place in a clearer point of 
view, the duty of those who desire, and desire every one should, 
to evince their grateful recollection of so inestimable a favour. 
Humbled in spirit, the sincere penitent casts himself down at 
the feet of the priest, to testify, by this his humble demeanour, 
that he acknowledges the necessity of eradicating pride, the 
root of all those enormities which he now deplores. In the 
minister of God, who sits in the tribunal of penance as his 
legitimate judge, he venerates the power and person of our Lord 
Jesus Christ ; for in the administration of this, as in that of the 
other sacraments, the priest represents the character and dis 
charges the functions of Jesus Christ. Acknowledging him 
self deserving of the severest chastisements, and imploring the 
pardon of his guilt, the penitent next proceeds to the confession 
of his sins. To the antiquity of all these rites St. Denis bears 
the most authentic testimony. 2 

To the faithful, however, nothing will be found more advan 
tageous, nothing better calculated to animate them to frequent 
the sacrament of penance with alacrity, than the frequent expo 
sition of the inestimable advantages which it confers. They 
will then see, that of penance it may be truly said : that " its 
root is bitter, but its fruit sweet." The great efficacy of penance 
is, therefore, that it restores us to the favour of God, and unites 

1 Levit. xiii. 9. et xiv. 2. 

2 In epist ad Demoph. Vid. et Tertul. lib. de poenit c. 9. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 183 

us to him in the closest bonds of friendship. 1 From this recon- H- 
ciliation with God, the devout soul, who approaches the sacra 
ment with deep sentiments of piety and religion, sometimes ex 
periences the greatest tranquillity and peace of conscience, a 
tranquillity and peace accompanied with the sweetest spiritual III. 
joy. There is no sin, however grievous, no crime however IV 
enormous or however frequently repeated, which penance does 
not remit : " If," says the Almighty, by the mouth of his pro 
phet, " the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he hath 
committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment 
and justice, living he shall live and shall not die; I will not re 
member all his iniquities which he hath done." 3 " If," says 
St. John, " we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive 
us our sins ;" 3 and a little after he adds : " If any man sin, we 
have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just ; and 
he is the propitiation for our sins ; and not for ours only, but 
also for those of the whole world." 4 If, therefore, we read in Note, 
the pages of inspiration, of some who earnestly implored the 
mercy of God, but implored it in vain, it is because theydid not 
repent sincerely and from their hearts. 5 When we also meet 
in the Sacred Scriptures and in the writings of the Fathers, pas 
sages which seem to say, that some sins are irremissible, we 
are to understand such passages to mean, that it is very difficult 
to obtain the pardon of them. A disease may be said to be 
incurable, when the patient loathes the medicine that would ac 
complish his cure ; and, in the same sense, some sins may be 
said to be irremissible, when the sinner rejects the grace of God, 
the proper medicine of salvation. To this effect St. Augustine 
says : " When, after having arrived at a knowledge of God, 
through the grace of Jesus Christ, any one opposes the fellow 
ship of the faith, and maliciously resists the grace of Jesus 
Christ, so great is the enormity of his crime, that, although his 
guilty conscience obliges him to acknowledge and declare his 
guilt, he cannot submit to the humiliation of imploring par 

To return to penance, to it belongs, in so special a manner, Penance 
the efficacy of remitting actual guilt, that without its iaterven- nec e?sary 
tion we cannot obtain or even hope for pardon. It is written : the pardon 
" Unless you do penance, you shall all perish." 7 These words of sin. 
of our Lord are to be understood of grievous and deadly sins, 
although, as St. Augustine observes, venial sins also require 
some penance : " If," says he, " without penance, venial sin 
could be remitted, the daily penance, performed for them by the 
Church, would be nugatory." 8 

But as, on matters which, in any degree, affect moral actions, The three 
it is not enough to convey instruction in general terms, the pas- integral 

Cone. Trid sess. 14. can. 3, &c. 1. de pcenitent. 2 Ezek. xviii. 21, 22. 

3 I John i. 9. * 1 John ii. 1,2. $2 Mach. ix. 13. 

6 Lib. 1. de sermon. Domini in monte, c. 42. et 44. et retract, lib. c. 8, 19. Aug. 
term. 1. de verhis Domini, et epist. 50. ad Bonif. 7 Luke xiii. 3. 5. 

Aug. lib. 50. horn. 50. item epist. 168. et Ench. cap. 71. 


parts of 

Their na 

Their con 

Why inte 
gral parts. 

and ex 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

tor will be careful to expound, severally, all those particulars 
which may give the faithful a knowledge of that penance, which 
is unto salvation. To this sacrament, then, it is peculiar that, 
besides .natter and form, which are common to all the sacra 
ments, it has, also, as we said before, what are called integral 
parts of penance, and these integral parts are contrition, con 
fession, and satisfaction. " Penance," says St. Chrysostome, 
" induces the sinner cheerfully to undergo every rigour ; his 
heart is pierced with contrition ; his lips utter the confession of 
his guilt ; and his actions breathe humility, and are accepted by 
God as a satisfaction." 1 These component parts of penance are 
such as we say are necessary to constitute a whole. The human 
form, for instance, is composed of many members, of hands, 
of feet, of eyes, &c. of which, if any are wanting, man is 
justly deemed imperfect, and if not, perfect. Analogous to this, 
penance consists of the three parts which we have already enu 
merated ; and although, as far as regards the nature of penance, 
contrition and confession are sufficient for justification, yet, if 
unaccompanied with satisfaction, something is still wanting to 
its integrity. So connected then are these parts one with the 
other, that contrition and a disposition to satisfaction precede 
confession, and contrition and confession precede satisfaction. 
Why these are integral parts of penance may be thus explained 
We sin against God by thought, word, and deed : when re 
curring to the power of the keys, we should, therefore, endea 
vour to appease his wrath, and obtain the pardon of our sins, 
by the very same means, by which we offended his supreme 
majesty. In further explanation we may also add, that penance 
is, as it were, a compensation for offences, which proceed from 
the free will of the person offending, and is appointed by the 
will of God, to whom the offence has been offered. On the 
part of the penitent, therefore, a willingness to make this com 
pensation is required, and in this willingness chiefly consists 
contrition. The penitent must also submit himself to the judg 
ment of the priest, who is the vicegerent of God, to enable him 
to award a punishment proportioned to his guilt ; and, hence, 
are clearly understood the nature and necessity of confession 
and satisfaction. 

But as the faithful require instruction on the nature and effi 
cacy of these parts of penance, we shall begin with contrition, 
a subject which demands to be explained with more than ordi 
nary care ; for as often as we call to mind our past transgres 
sions, or offend God anew, so often should our hearts be pierced 
with contrition. By the Fathers of the Council of Trent, con 
trition is denned : " A sorrow and detestation of past sin, with 
a purpose of sinning no more." 2 Speaking of the motion of 
the will to contrition, the Council, a little after, adds: " if joined 
with a confidence in the mercy of God, and an earnest desire 

1 Horn. 11. quae est de pcenit. Vid. cone. Trid. 14. de poenit, cap. 3. et can. 4. Item, 
cone. Flor. in doctrin. de Sacram. 

2 Ead. sess. 14. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 185 

of performing whatever is necessary to the proper reception of 
the Sacrament, it thus, at length, prepares us for the remission 
of sin." From this definition, therefore, the faithful will per 
ceive that contrition does not simply consist in ceasing to sin, 
purposing to enter, or having actually entered, on a new life : 
it supposes, first of all, a hatred of sin, and a desire of atoning 
for past transgressions. This, the cries of the holy Fathers of 
antiquity, which are poured out in the pages of inspiration, suf 
ficiently prove :* " I have laboured in my groaning ;" says Da 
vid, "every night I will wash my bed ;" and again, " The Lord 
hath heard the voice of my weeping." 9 " I will recount to thee 
all my years," says the prophet Isaias, "in the bitterness of rny 
soul." 3 These and many other expressions of the same im 
port, were called forth by an intense hatred and a lively detes 
tation of past transgressions. 

But, although contrition is defined "a sorrow," the faithful Thesorrow 

are not thence to conclude, that this sorrow consists in sensible w . h . ch con " 
f ,. ... / i MI j trition re- 

feelmg : contrition is an act 01 the will, and as St. Augustine q u i re s ex- 
observes, sorrow is not penance, but the accompaniment of pe- plained. 
nance. 4 By " sorrow " the Fathers of Trent understood a 
hatred and detestation of sin ; because, in this sense, the Sa 
cred Scriptures frequently make use of the word: "How long," 
says David, " shall I take counsels in my soul, sorrow in my 
heart all the day?" 5 and also because from contrition arises 
sorrow in the inferior part of the soul, which, in the language 
of the schools, is called the seat of concupiscence. With pro 
priety, therefore, is contrition defined a " sorrow," because it 
produces sorrow, a sorrow so intense that in other days, peni 
tents, to express its intensity, changed their garments, a practice 
to which our Lord alludes when he says ; " Wo to thee, Coro- 
zain ; wo to thee, Bethsaida : for if in Tyre and Sidon had been 
wrought the miracles that have been wrought in thee, they had 
done penance, long since, in sackcloth and ashes." 8 To signify Propriety 
the intensity of this sorrow, the " detestation of sin," of which oftheword 
we speak, is properly expressed by the word " contrition," a " 

word which, literally understood, means the breaking into small 
parts by means of some harder substance, and which is here 
used metaphorically, to signify that our hearts, hardened by 
pride, are subdued and reduced by penance. Hence no other 
sorrow, not even that which is felt for the death of parents, or 
children, or for any other visitation however calamitous, is called 
contrition : the word is exclusively employed to express the 
sorrow with which we are overwhelmed by the forfeiture of the 
grace of God and of our own innocence. It is, however, often 
designated by other names : sometimes it is called " contrition Sometim 
of heart," because the word "heart" is frequently used in ^ led by 
Scripture to express the will, for as the heart is the principle, names, 
which originates the motion of the human system ; so, the will 

1 Vid. de pcenit. dist. 1. c. et venit, et ibid. dist. c. tutnm. 2 Ps. vL 7 9 

3 Isa. ixxviii. 15. * Homil. 50. * Ps. xii. 2. Matt xi. 21. 

16* 2 A 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

This sor- 

preme in 

is the faculty which governs and controls the other powers of 
the soul. By the holy Fathers it is also called " compunction 
of heart," and hence the works written by them on contrition 
they prefer inscribing, treatises on "compunction of heart;" 1 
for, as imposthumes are cut with a lancet in order to open a 
passage to the virulent matter accumulated within ; so the heart 
of the sinner is, as it were, pierced with contrition, to enable it 
to emit the deadly poison of sin which rankles within it. 
Hence, contrition is called by the Prophet Joel, a rending of 
the heart: "Be converted to me," says he, "with all your 
hearts in fasting, in weeping, in mourning, and rend your 
hearts." 3 

That for past transgressions the sinner should experience the 
row should deepest sorrow, a sorrow not to be exceeded, will easily appear 
from the following considerations. Perfect contrition is an act 
of charity, emanating from what is called filial fear : the mea 
sure of contrition and charity should, therefore, it is obvious, 
be the same : but the charity which we cherish towards God, 3 is 
the most perfect love ; and, therefore, the sorrow which contri 
tion inspires, should also be the most perfect. God is to be loved 
above all things ; and whatever separates us from God is, there 
fore, to be hated above all things. It is, also, worthy of ob 
servation, that to charity and contrition the language of Scrip 
ture assigns the same extent : of charity it is said : " Thou 
shall love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart :" 4 of contri- 
trition : "Be converted with thy whole heart." 5 Besides, if it 
is true, that of all objects which solicit our love, God is the su 
preme good, and no less true, that of all objects which deserve 
our execration sin is the supreme evil ; the same principle 
which prompts us to confess that God is to be loved above all 
things, obliges us also of necessity to acknowledge that sin is 
to be hated above all things. That God is to be loved above 
all things, so that we should be prepared to sacrifice our lives 
rather than offend him, these words of the Redeemer declare : 
" He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy 
of me :" " He that will save his life shall lose it." 7 As cha 
rity, it is the observation of St. Bernard, recognises neither 
measure nor limit, or to use his own words, as " the measure 
of loving God is to love him without measure," 8 so the measure 
of hating sin should be, to hate sin without measure. Besides, 
our contrition should be supreme not only in degree, but also 
in intensity, and thus perfect, excluding all apathy and indiffe 
rence, according to these words of Deuteronomy : " When thou 
shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shall find him : yet so if thou 
seek him with all thy heart, and all the affliction of thy soul ;" 9 
and of the prophet Jeremiah : " thou shalt seek me and shalt 
find me, when thou shalt seek me with all thy heart ; and I 

1 Chrysost. de compunct cordis. Triden. de summo bono, lib. 2. c. 12. 

2 Joel ii. 12. 3 ] John iv. 7. 4 Deut. vi. 5. s Joel ii. 12 
6 Matt. x. 37. "< Matt. xvi. 25. Mark vii. 35. 

Lab. de diligendo Deo circa med. Deut iv. 29. 



And also 
in inten- 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 187 

will be found by thee, saith the Lord." 1 If, however, our con- imperfect 
trition be not perfect, it may, nevertheless, be true and efficacious ; contrition 
for as things which fall under the senses frequently touch the ue^f d 
heart more sensibly than things purely spiritual, it will some- efficacious, 
times happen that persons feel more intense sorrow for the 
death of their children, than for the grievousness of their sins. 
Our contrition may also be true and efficacious, although unac- Tears de- 
companied with tears. That sorrow for his sins bathe the of- sirab l e > but 
femler in tears, is, however, much to be desired and com- sary- 
mended. On this subject the words of St. Augustine are admi 
rable : " The spirit of Christian charity," says he, " lives not 
within you, if you lament the body from which the soul has de 
parted, but lament not the soul from which God has departed." 3 
To the same effect are the words of the Redeemer above cited : 
" Wo to thee, Corozain, wo to thee, Bethsaida, for if in Tyre 
and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been 
wrought in thee, they had long since done penance, in sack 
cloth and ashes." 3 Of this, however, we have abundant illus 
tration in the well known examples of the Ninevites, 4 of David, 5 
of the woman caught in adultery, 8 and of the Prince of the 
Apostles, 7 all of whom obtained the pardon of their sins, im 
ploring the mercy of God with abundance of tears. 

The faithful are most earnestly to be exhorted to study to di- Contrition 
rect their contrition specially to each mortal sin into which sno " ld e *~ 
they may have had the misfortune to fall : " I will recount to thee," mortal sins, 
says Isaias, " all my years in the bitterness of my soul :" 8 as 
if he had said, " I will count over all my sins severally, that 
my heart may be pierced with sorrow for them all." In Eze- 
kiel, also, we read : " If the wicked do penance for all his sins, 
he shall live." 9 In this spirit, St. Augustine says : " Let the 
sinner consider the quality of his sins, as affected by time, 
place, variety, person." 10 In the work of conversion, however, Note, 
the sinner should not despair of the infinite goodness and mercy 
of God : he is most desirous of our salvation ; and, therefore, 
refuses not to pardon, but embraces, with a father s fondness, the 
prodigal child, the moment he returns to a sense of his duty, 
and is converted to the Lord, detesting his sins, which he will 
afterwards, if possible, recall, severally, to his recollection, and 
abhor from his inmost soul. The Almighty himself, by the 
mouth of his prophet, commands us to hope, when he says : 
" The wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him, in what 
day soever he shall turn from his wickedness." 11 

To convey a knowledge of the most important qualities of The quaii 

true contrition, what has been said will be found sufficiently ties f. tru * 
, *.%. I/.-ITI _i contntion. 

comprehensive. In these the faithful are to be accurately in 
structed, that each may know the means of attaining, and may 
have a fixed standard by which to determine how far he may be 

i Jer. xxix. 13. 2 Ser. 41. de sanctis. 3 tyiatt. xi. 21. 

4 Jonas iii. 6. 6 Ps. 6 and 50. 6 Luke vii. 37. 48. 51. 

7 Luke xxii. 62. 8 Isa. xxxviii. 15. 9 Ezek. xviii. 21. 

10 Lib. de vera et falsa relig. cap. 14. " Ezek. xxxiii. 12. 

188 TTie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

I- removed from the perfection of this virtue. We must, then, 
in the first place, detest and deplore all our sins : if our sorrow 
and detestation extend only to some, our repentance cannot be 
sincere or salutary : " Whosoever shall keep the whole law," 
says St. James, " but offend in one point, is become guilty of 
all." 1 In the next place, our contrition must be accompanied 
with a desire of confessing and satisfying for our sins : dispo- 
111- sitions of which we shall treat in their proper place. Thirdly, 
the penitent must form a fixed and firm purpose of amendment 
of life, according to these words of the prophet: " If the 
wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, 
and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice, 
living he shall live, and shall not die : I will not remember all 
his iniquities which he hath done ;" and a little after ; " Be 
converted, and do penance for all your iniquities, and iniquity 
shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your trans 
gressions, by which you have transgressed, and make your- 
Illustra- selves a new heart." 3 To the woman caught in adultery the 
Redeemer himself imparts the same lesson of instruction : " Go 
thy way, and sin no more," 3 and also to the lame man whom he 
cured at the pool of Bethsaida : " Behold, thou art made whole, 
sin no more." 4 That a sorrow for sin, and a firm purpose of 
avoiding sin for the future, are indispensable to contrition, is 
the dictate of unassisted reason. He who would be reconciled 
to a friend, must regret to have injured or offended him ; and 
the tone and tenor of his conduct must be such that the charge of 
violating the duties of friendship cannot, in future, justly attach 
to his character. These are principles to which man is bound 
to yield obedience ; the law to which man is subject, be it natu 
ral, divine, or human, he is bound to obey. If, therefore, by 
force or fraud, the penitent has injured his neighbour in his pro 
perty, he is bound to restitution : if, by word or deed he has 
injured his honour or reputation, he is under an obligation of 
repairing the injury, according to the well known maxim of St. 
Augustine : " the sin is not forgiven unless what has been taken 
IV. away is restored." 5 In the fourth and last place, and the con 
dition is no less important, true contrition must be accompa 
nied with forgiveness of the injuries which we may have sus 
tained from others. This our Lord emphatically declares and 
energetically inculcates, when he says : " If you will forgive 
men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also 
your offences ; but if you will not forgive men, neither will 
your Father forgive you your offences." 8 These are the con 
ditions which true contrition requires. There are other accom 
paniments which, although not essential, contribute to render 
contrition more perfect in its kind, and which will reward, 
without fatiguing the industry of the pastor. 

Efficacy It will conduce in an eminent degree, to the spiritual interests 
and iraport- 

1 James ii. 10. 2 Ezek. xviii. 21, 22. 3 John viii. 11 

* John v. 14 5 Epist. v. 4. 6 Matt vi. 14. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 189 

of the faithful, if the pastor press frequently upon their attention, ance of 
the efficacy and importance of contrition. To make known the contriuou - 
truths of salvation should not be deemed a full discharge of the 
duty of the pastor : his zeal should be exerted to persuade them 
to the adoption of these truths as their rule of conduct through 
life, as the governing principle of all their actions. Other pious 
exercises, such as alms, fasting, prayer, and the like, in them 
selves holy and commendable, are sometimes, through human 
infirmity, rejected by Almighty God ; but contrition can never 
be rejected by him, never prove unacceptable to him : " A con 
trite and humbled heart, O God !" exclaims the prophet, "thou 
wilt not despise." 1 Nay more, the same prophet declares that, 
as soon as we have conceived this contrition in our hearts, our 
sins are forgiven : " I said, I will confess my injustice to the 
Lord, and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin." 3 
Of this we have a figure in the ten lepers, who, when sent by 
our Lord to the priests, were cured of their leprosy, before they 
had reached them ; 3 to give us to understand, that such is the 
efficacy of true contrition, of which we have spoken above, that 
through it we obtain from God the immediate pardon of our 

To excite the faithful to contrition, it will be found very sa- Spiritual 
lutary if the pastor point out the spiritual exercises conducive exe rcises 
to contrition. This is to be accomplished by admonishing them, ^ contr i. 
frequently to examine their consciences, in order to ascertain if tion. 
they have been faithful in the observance of those things which 
God and his Church require ; and should any one be conscious II. 
of crime, he should immediately accuse himself, humbly solicit III. 
pardon from God, and implore time to confess, and satisfy for 
his sins. Above all, let him supplicate the aid of divine grace, IV 
by which he may be fortified against a relapse into those crimes, 
the commission of which he now penitently deplores. The faith- V 
ful are also to be excited to a hatred of sin, arising from the 
consideration of its baseness and turpitude, and of the evils and 
calamities of which it is the poisoned source, estranging us, as 
it does, from the friendship of God, to whom we are already 
indebted for so many invaluable blessings, and from whom we 
might have expected to receive gifts of still higher value, and 
consigning us to eternal death, to be the unhappy victims of the 
most excruciating torments. 

Having said thus much on contrition, we now come to con- Confession, 
fession, which is another part of penance. The care and exact- 1 a t ^ c 1 port " 
ness which its exposition demands, must be at once obvious, if I. 
we only reflect, that whatever of piety, of holiness, of religion, 
has been preserved to our times in the Church of God, is, in 
the general opinion of the truly pious, to be ascribed in a great 
measure, under divine Providence, to the influence of Confes 
sion. It cannot, therefore, be matter of surprise, that the enemy 
of the human race, in his efforts to level to its foundation the 

Ps. 1. 19. 2 Pa. xxxi. 5. Luke xvii. 14. 

190 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

fabric of Catholicity, should, through the agency of the minis 
ters of his wicked designs, have assailed, with all his might, 
this bulwark of Christian virtue. The pastor, therefore, will 
teach, in the first place, that the institution of confession is most 
useful and even necessary. 

II. Contrition, it is true, blots out sin ; but who is ignorant, that 
to effect this, it must be so intense, so ardent, so vehement, as 
to bear a proportion to the magnitude of the crimes which it 
effaces ? This is a degree of contrition which few reach, and 
hence, through perfect contrition alone, very few indeed could 
hope to obtain the pardon of their sins. It, therefore, became 
necessary, that the Almighty, in his mercy, should afford a less 
precarious and less difficult means of reconciliation, and of sal 
vation ; and this he has done, in his admirable wisdom, by 
giving to his Church the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Ac 
cording to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, a doctrine firmly 
to be believed and professed by all her children, if the sinner 
have recourse to the tribunal of penance with a sincere sorrow 
for his sins, and a firm resolution of avoiding them in future, 
although he bring not with him that contrition which may be 
sufficient of itself to obtain the pardon of sin ; his sins are for 
given by the minister of religion, through the power of the keys. 
Justly, then, do the Holy Fathers proclaim, that by the keys 
of the Church, the gate of heaven is thrown open ; l a truth 
which the decree of the Council of Florence, declaring that the 
effect of penance is absolution from sin, renders it imperative 
on all, unhesitatingly to believe. 3 

III. To appreciate the advantages of confession, we should not 
lose sight of an argument which has the sanction of experience. 
To those who have led immoral lives, nothing is found so use 
ful towards a reformation of morals, as sometimes to disclose 
their secret thoughts, their words, their actions, to a prudent 
and faithful friend, who can guide them by his advice, and assist 
them by his co-operation. On the same principle must it prove 
most salutary to those, whose minds are agitated by the conscious 
ness of guilt, to make known the diseases and wounds of their 
souls to the priest, as the vicegerent of Jesus Christ, bound to 
eternal secrecy by every law human and divine. In the tribu 
nal of penance they will find immediate remedies, the healing 
qualities of which will not only remove the present malady, but 
also prove of such lasting efficacy as to be, in future, an anti 
dote against the easy approach of the same moral disease. 

IV Another advantage, derivable from confession, is too impor 

tant to be omitted : confession contributes powerfully to the 
preservation of social order. Abolish sacramental confession, 
and, that moment, you deluge society with all sorts of secret 
crimes crimes too, and others of still greater enormity, which 
men, once that they have been depraved by vicious habits, will 

1 Ambr. serin. 1, de quadrag. citatur de poenit, dist. 1. c. ecce nunc. August, lib. 
2 de adul. conjug. 59. Chrysost de sacerdot. lib. 3. 

2 Flor. Cone, in decreto Eugenii. IV. de poenit. dist. 6. c. sacerdos. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 191 

not dread to commit in open day. The salutary shame that 
attends confession, restrains licentiousness, bridles desire, and 
coerces the evil propensities of corrupt nature. 

Having explained the advantages of confession, the pastor Nature and 
will next unfold its nature and efficacy. Confession, then, is effi cacyof 
defined " A sacramental accusation of one s self, made to obtain 
pardon by virtue of the keys." It is properly called " an ac 
cusation," because sins are not to be told as if the sinner boasted 
of his crimes, as they do, " who are glad when they have done 
evil ;"* nor are they to be related as idle stories or passing oc 
currences, to amuse : they are to be confessed as matters of 
self-accusation, with a desire, as it were, to avenge them on 
ourselves. But we confess our sins with a view to obtain the 
pardon of them ; and, in this respect, the tribunal of penance 
differs from other tribunals, which take cognizance of capital 
offences, and before which a confession of guilt is sometimes 
made, not to secure acquittal but to justify the sentence of the 
law. The definition of confession by the Holy Fathers, 3 al 
though different in words, is substantially the same : " Confes 
sion," says St. Augustine, " is the disclosure of a secret dis 
ease, with the hope of obtaining a cure ;" 3 and St. Gregory ; 
" confession is a detestation of sins :" 4 both of which accord 
with, and are contained in the preceding definition. 

The pastor will next teach, with all the decision due to a instituted 
revealed truth, a truth of paramount importance, that this Sa- b y Christ, 
crament owes its institution to the singular goodness and mercy 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who ordered all things well, and 
solely with a view to our salvation. 5 After his resurrection, he 
breathed on the assembled Apostles, saying : " Receive ye the 
Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven ; 
and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." 8 By in 
vesting the sacerdotal character with power to retain as well as 
to remit sins, he thus, it is manifest, constitutes them judges in 
the causes on which this discretionary power is to be exercised. 
This he seems to have signified when, having raised Lazarus 
from the dead, he commanded his Apostles to loose him from 
the bands in which he was bound. 7 This is the interpretation 
of St. Augustine : " they," says he, " the priests, can now 
do more : they can exercise greater clemency towards those 
who confess, and whose sins they forgive. The Lord by the 
hands of his Apostles delivered Lazarus, whom he had already 
raised from the dead, to be loosed by the hands of his disci 
ples ; thus giving us to understand that to priests was given the 
power of loosing." 8 To this, also, refers the command given II. 
by our Lord to the lepers cured on the way, to show themselves 

i Prov. ii. 14. 2 Chrysost. 20, in Genes. 

3 Aug. ser. 4, de verbis Domini. > Greg. horn. 40. in Evangel. 

5 Vid. Trid. sess. 14. de poenit. e. 5. et can. 0. Aug. lib. 50. horn, homil. 64, et 
citatur de poenit. dist. 1. c. agite. Orig. horn. 1. in Psal. 37. Chrysost. de sacerd. lib. 3 
John xx. 22, 23. 7 John si. 44. 

s De vera et lalsa pcenit. c. 1C. et serm. 8, de verbis Domini. 

J92 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

to the priests, and subject themselves to their judgment * In 
vested, then, as they are, by our Lord with power to remit and 
retain sins, priests are, evidently, appointed judges of the mat 
ter Oil which they are to pronounce ; and as, according to the 
wise admonition of the Council of Trent, we cannot form an 
accurate judgment on any matter, or award to crime a just pro 
portion of punishment, without having previously examined, 
and made ourselves well acquainted with the cause ; hence 
arises a necessity, on the part of the penitent, of making known 
to the priest, through the medium of confession, each and every 
sin. a This doctrine, a doctrine defined by the holy synod of 
Trent, the uniform doctrine of the Catholic Church, the pastor 
III. will teach. An attentive perusal of the Holy Fathers will pre 
sent innumerable passages throughout their works, proving in 
the clearest terms that this Sacrament was instituted by our 
Lord, and that the law of sacramental confession, which, from 
the Greek, they call " exomologesis," and " exagoreusis," is 
to be received as evangelical. That the different sorts of sa 
crifices, which were offered by the priests for the expiation of 
different sorts of sins, seem, beyond all doubt, to have reference 
to sacramental confession, an examination of the figures of the 
Old Testament will also evince. 

Kites and Not only are the faithful to be taught that confession was in- 
eeremonies stituted by our Lord ; but they are also to be reminded that, by 
confession aut h r J t y of the Church, have been added certain rites and 
solemn ceremonies, which, although not essential to the Sacra 
ment, serve to place its dignity more fully before the eyes of 
the penitent, and to prepare his soul, now kindled into devotion, 
the more easily to receive the grace of the Sacrament. When, 
with uncovered head, and bended knees, with eyes fixed on the 
earth, and hands raised in supplication to heaven, and with other 
indications of Christian humility not essential to the Sacrament, 
we confess our sins, our minds are thus deeply impressed with 
a clear conviction of the heavenly virtue of the Sacraments, and 
also of the necessity of humbly imploring and of earnestly im 
portuning the mercy of God. 

Confession Nor let it be supposed that confession, although instituted by 
necessary. our Lord, is not declared by him necessary for the remission 
of sin : the faithful must be impressed with the conviction, that 
he who is dead in sin, is to be recalled to spiritual life by means 
of sacramental confession, a truth clearly conveyed by our Lord 
himself, when, by a most beautiful metaphor, he calls the power 
of administering this sacrament, "the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven." 8 To obtain admittance into any place, the concur 
rence of him to whom the keys have been committed is neces 
sary, and therefore, as the metaphor implies, to gain admission 

1 Luke xvii. 14. 

2 Sess. 14. c. 5. et can. 7. de poenit. Sacerdotes *sse pecatorum judices docent 
August, lib. 20. de civil. Dei, c. 9. Hieron. epist. 1. ad Heliod. Chrysost. lib. 3. de 
Sacerd. et hom. 5. de verbis Isaise. Greg. horn. 26. in Evang. Ambr. lib. 2. de Cain, 

. Greg. 
cap. 4. Trid. sess. 14. de poenit. c. 5. can. 7. 

3 Matt. xvi. 19. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 103 

into heaven, its gates must be opened to us by the power of the 
keys, confided by Almighty God to the care of his Church. 
This power should otherwise be nugatory: if heaven can be 
entered without the power of the keys, in vain shall they to 
whose fidelity they have been intrusted, assume the prerogative 
of prohibiting indiscriminate entrance within its portals. This 
doctrine was familiar to the mind of St. Augustine : " Let no 
man," says he, "say within himself; I repent in secret with 
God ; God, who has power to pardon me, knows the inmost 
sentiments of my heart : was there no reason for saying : 
whatsoever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven ; * no 
reason why the keys were given to the Church of God?" 3 
The same doctrine is recorded by the pen of St. Ambrose, in 
his treatise on penance, when refuting the heresy of the Nova- 
tians, who asserted that the power of forgiving sins belonged 
solely to God : " Who," says he, " yields greater reverence to 
God, he who obeys or he who resists his commands ? God 
commands us to obey his ministers ; and by obeying them, we 
honour God alone. " a 

As the law of confession was, no doubt, enacted and esta- Confession 
blished by our Lord himself, it is our duty to ascertain, on obligatory, 
whom, at what age, and at what period of the year, it becomes *" 
obligatory. According to the canon of the Council of Lateran, 
which begins: " Omnis utriusque sexus," no person is bound 
by the law of confession until he has arrived at the use of rea 
son, a time determinable by no fixed number of years. 4 It may, 
however, be laid down as a general principle, that children are 
bound to go to confession, as soon as they are able to discern 
good from evil, and are capable of malice ; for, when arrived at 
an age to attend to the work of salvation, every one is bound to 
have recourse to the tribunal of penance, without which the 
sinner cannot hope for salvation. In the same canon the Church At what 
has defined the period, within which we are bound to discharge lime - 
the duty of confession : it commands all the faithful to confess 
their sins at least once a year. 5 If, however, we consult for our 
eternal interests, we will certainly not neglect to have recourse 
to confession as often, at least, as we are in danger of death, or 
undertake to perform any act incompatible with the state of sin, 
such as to administer or receive the sacraments. The same 
rule should be strictly followed when we are apprehensive of 
forgetting some sin, into which we may have had the misfortune 
to fall : to confess our sins, we must recollect them ; and the 
remission of them we can only obtain through the sacrament of 
penance, of which con-fession is a part. 

But as, in confession, many things are to be observed, some integrity 
of which are essential, some not essential to the sacrament, the ess "H i!l1 to 
faithful are to be carefully instructed on all these matters ; and the f e f s j on ^ 
pastor can have access to works, from which such instructions what it 


i Lib. 50. horn. 49. 2 Matt, xviii. 18. Lib. 1. de pern. 2. 

< Lat. cone. cap. 22. * Lat. cone. cap. 21. 

17 2B 

194 The, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

may easily be drawn. Amongst these matters, he will, on no 
account, omit to inform the faithful, that to a good confession 
integrity is essential. All mortal sins must be revealed to the 
minister of religion : venial sins, which do not separate us from 
the grace of God, and into which we frequently fall, although 
as the experience of the pious proves, proper and profitable to 
be confessed, may be omitted without sin, and expiated by a 
variety of other means. 1 Mortal sins, as we have already said, 
although buried in the darkest secrecy, and also sins of desire 
only, such as are forbidden by the ninth and tenth command 
ments, are all and each of them to be made matter of confes 
sion. Such secret sins often inflict deeper wounds on the soul, 
than those which are committed openly and publicly. It is, 
however, a point of doctrine defined by the Council of Trent ; a 
and as the holy Fathers testify, the uniform and universal doc 
trine of the Catholic Church : " Without the confession of his 
sin," says St. Ambrose, " no man can be justified from his 
sin." 3 In confirmation of the same doctrine, St. Jerome, on 
Ecclesiastes, says ; " If the serpent, the devil, has secretly and 
without the knowledge of a third person, bitten any one, and 
has infused into him the poison of sin ; if unwilling to disclose 
his wound to his brother or master, he is silent and will not do 
penance, his master who has power to cure him, can render 
him no service." The same doctrine we find in St. Cyprian, 
in his sermon on the lapsed : " Although guiltless," says he, 
" of the heinous crime of sacrificing to idols, or of having pur 
chased certificates to that effect ; yet. as they entertained the 
thought of doing so, they should confess it with grief, to the 
priest of God." 4 In fine, such is the unanimous voice, such 
the unvarying accord of all the Doctors of the Church. 5 
Aggrava- In confession we should employ all that care and exactness 
ting cir- which we usually bestow upon worldly concerns of the greatest 
ces n when moment, and all our efforts should be directed to effect the cure 
necessary of our spiritual maladies and to eradicate sin from the soul. 

to be men- \yj t h ^ ne b are enumeration of our mortal sins, we should not 
tioned m .... . . , , 

confession, be satisfied ; that enumeration we should accompany with the 

relation of such circumstances as considerably aggravate or ex 
tenuate their malice. Some circumstances are such, as of them 
selves to constitute mortal guilt; on no account or occasion 
whatever, therefore, are such circumstances to be omitted. Has 
any one imbrued his hands in the blood of his fellow man ? 
He must state whether his victim was a layman or an ecclesi 
astic. Has he had criminal intercourse with any one ? He 

1 Quomodo venialia dimittantur vide Aug. in Ench. cap. 71. citatur de poenit. 
dist- 3. c, de quotidianis, et in Cone. Tolet. 4. cap. 9. 

2 Sess. 14. de poenit. c. 5. et can. 7. 

3 Lib. de Paradiso, c. 4. c. 1. super illud : si mordeat serpens. 

4 Circa finem. 

r > Singula percata mortalia confiteri oportere decent August, lib. de vera el 
falsa poenit. cap. 10. Gregor. homil. 10. super Ezekiel. Ambr. lib. de pared, cap. 14. 
Hieron. in Ecclesiast. c. 10. Cypr. de lapsis circa finem. Vid. et de posnit. dist. 3. 
cap. sunt plures, &c. pluit et ibid. dist. 1. c. quern pcen. et ibid, pass 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 195 

must state whether the female was married or unmarried, a re 
lative or a person consecrated to God by vow. These are cir 
cumstances which alter the species of the sins : the first is called 
simple fornication ; the second adultery ; the third incest ; and 
the fourth sacrilege. Again, theft is numbered in the catalogue of 
sins ; but if a person has stolen a guinea, his sin is less griev 
ous than if he had stolen one or two hundred guineas, or a con 
siderable sum ; and if the stolen money were sacred, the sin 
would be still aggravated. To time and place the same obser 
vation equally applies ; but the instances in which these cir 
cumstances alter the complexion of an act, are so familiar and 
are enumerated by so many writers, as to supersede the neces 
sity of a lengthened detail. Circumstances such as these are, Whenun- 
therefore, to be mentioned; but those, which do not consider- necessar y- 
ably aggravate, may be lawfully omitted. 

So important, as we have already said, is integrity to confes- Conceal- 
sion, that if the penitent wilfully neglect to accuse himself of mentofa 
some sins which should be confessed, and suppress others, he fessionT" 
not only does not obtain the pardon of his sins, but involves grievous 
himself in deeper guilt. Such an enumeration cannot be called cn . e: . the 

i ft , . coniHssioii 

sacramental confession : on the contrary, the penitent must re- to be re 
peat his confession, not omitting to accuse himself of having, peated. 
under the semblance of confession, profaned the sanctity of the 
sacrament. But should the confession seem defective, either Omission of 
because the penitent forgot some grievous sins, or because al- a sin 
though intent on confessing all his sins, he did not explore the forgeUuV 
recesses of his conscience with extraordinary minuteness, he is ness does 
not bound to repeat his confession : it will be sufficient, when notren ^ e r 
he recollects the sins which he had forgotten, to confess them to r/tonT" 
a priest on a future occasion. We are not, however, to exa- P 6 ^ tne 
mine our consciences with careless indifference, or evince such confession - 
negligence in recalling our sins to our recollection, as if we 
were unwilling to remember them ; and should this have been 
the case, the confession must be reiterated. 

Our confession should also be plain, simple, and undisguised, Confession 
not clothed in that artificial language with which some invest it, sho .uld be 
who seem more disposed to give an outline of their general man- 
ner of living, than to confess their sins. Our confession should be gui sed, 
such as to reflect a true image of our lives, such as we ourselves 
know them to be, exhibiting as doubtful that which is doubtful, 
and as certain that which is certain. If, then, we neglect to 
enumerate our sins, or introduce extraneous matter, our confes 
sion, it is clear, wants this quality. 

Prudence and modesty in explaining matters of confession prudent, 
are also much to be commended, and a superfluity of words is and mo " 
to be carefully avoided : whatever is necessary to make known est " 
the nature of every sin, is to be explained briefly and modestly. 

Secrecy should be strictly observed as well by penitent Secrecy to 
as priest, and, hence, because in such circumstances secrecy b 1 observ - 
must be insecure, no one can, on any account, confess by mes- and* 
senger or letter. tent 

196 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Frequent But above all, the faithful should be most careful to cleanse 
confession. ^^ consc j ences f rom s i n by frequent confession : when op 
pressed by mortal guilt, nothing can be more salutary, so pre 
carious is human life, than to have immediate recourse to the 
tribunal of penance ; but could we even promise ourselves length 
of days, yet should not we who are so particular in whatever re 
lates to cleanliness of dress or person, blush to evince less con 
cern in preserving the lustre of the soul pure and unsullied from 
the foul stains of sin. 

The minis- We now come to treat of the minister of this sacrament That 
ter of the tne m i mst er of the sacrament of penance must be a priest pos- 

saerament .. ...... .-, , *Ii. rvu i 

of penance, sessing ordinary or delegated jurisdiction, the laws 01 the Unurcn 
sufficiently declare : whoever discharges this sacred function 
must be invested, not only with the power of orders, but also 
with that of jurisdiction. Of this ministry we have an illustrious 
proof in these words of the Redeemer, recorded by St. John : 
" Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven, and whose 
sins you shall retain they are retained ;"* words addressed not 
to all but to the Apostles only, to whom, in this function of the 
ministry, priests succeed. This admirably accords with the 
economy of religion, for as the grace imparted by this sacrament 
emanates from Christ the head, and is diffused through his 
members, they who alone have power to consecrate his true 
body, should alone have power to administer this sacrament to 
his mystical body, the faithful ; particularly as they are quali 
fied and disposed by means of the sacrament of penance, to re 
ceive the Holy Eucharist. The scrupulous care which, in the 
primitive ages of the Church, guarded the right of the ordinary 
priest, is very intelligible from the ancient decrees of the Fa 
thers, which provided, "that no bishop or priest, except in case 
of necessity, presume to exercise any function in the parish of 
another without the authority of the ordinary ;" a law which 
derives its sanction from the Apostle, when he commanded Ti 
tus to ordain priests in every city, 3 to administer to the faithful 
Any priest, the heavenly food of doctrine and of the sacraments. But in 
the minis- case O f i mm i ne nt danger of death, when recourse cannot be had 
iremecase! to tne proper priest, that none may perish, the Council of Trent 
teaches that, according to the ancient practice of the Church of 
God, it is then lawful for any priest, not only to remit all sorts 
of sins, whatever faculties they might otherwise require, but 
also to absolve from excommunication. 3 

Qualifica- Besides the power of orders and of jurisdiction, which are of 

tionsofthe absolute necessity, the minister of this sacrament, holding as he 

does, the place at once of judge and physician, should also be 

Know- gifted with knowledge and prudence. As judge, his knowledge, 

fc^ge- it is evident, should be more than ordinary, for by it he is to 

examine into the nature of sins, and, amongst the various sorts 

of sins, to judge which are grievous and which are not, keeping 

in view the rank and condition of the person. As physician, 

1 Johr K. 23. 2 Tit. i. 5. Sess. 14. c. 6. de poeriit. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 197 

he has also occasion for consummate prudence, for to him it Prudence, 
belongs to administer to the distempered soul those sanative 
medicines, which will not only effect the cure of her present 
malady, but prove preservatives against its future contagion. 1 
The faithful, therefore, will perceive the great importance to be 
attached to the choice of a confessor, and will use their best en 
deavours to choose one who is recommended by integrity of integrityof 
life, by learning and prudence, who is deeply impressed with ^ ife - 
the awful weight and responsibility of the station which he 
holds, who understands well the punishment due to every sin, 
and can also discern who are to be loosed and who to be bound. 

But as all are anxious, that their sins should be buried in The seal of 
eternal secrecy, the faithful are to be admonished that there is con f ession - 
no reason whatever to apprehend, that what is made known in 
confession will ever be revealed by any priest, or that by it the 
penitent can, at any time, be brought into danger or difficulty 
of any sort. All laws human and divine guard the inviolability 
of the seal of confession, and against its sacrilegious infraction 
the Church denounces her heaviest chastisements. 3 "Let the 
priest," says the great Council of Lateran, " take especial care, 
neither by word nor sign, nor by any other means whatever, to 
betray, in the least degree, the sacred trust confided to him by 
the sinner." 3 

Having treated of the minister of this sacrament, the order Negli- 
of our matter requires, that we next proceed to explain some g. ence f 
general heads, which are of considerable practical import 
ance with regard to confession. Many, to whom, in general, 
no time seems to pass so slowly as that which is appointed by 
the laws of the Church for the duty of confession, so far from 
giving due attention to those other matters, which are obviously 
most efficacious in conciliating the favour and friendship of God, 
are placed at such a distance from Christian perfection, as 
scarcely to recollect the sins, which are to be the matter of their 
confession. As, therefore, nothing is to be omitted, which can The con 
assist the faithful in the important work of salvation, the priest fessorwill 
will be careful to observe, if the penitent be truly contrite for "hTpeni-^ 
his sins, and deliberately and firmly resolved to avoid sin for tentbetru 
the future. If the sinner is found to be thus disposed, he is to \? contrite 
be admonished and earnestly exhorted, to pour out his heart in treated* if 
gratitude to God for this invaluable blessing, and supplicate un- contrite: 
ceasingly the aid of divine grace, shielded by which he may 
securely combat the evil propensities of corrupt nature. He 
should also be taught, not to suffer a day to pass, without de 
voting a portion of it to meditation on some mystery of the 
passion, in order to excite himself to an imitation of his great 
model, and inflame his heart with ardent love for his Redeemer. 
The fruit of such meditation will be, to fortify him more and 
more, every day, against all the assaults of the devil ; for, what 

Ex Basil, in reg. brevibus, q. li. 29. 2 Ex Leonis Papse episL 80. 

* Cap. 21. 



If not con 
trite : 

If find of 

or extenu 
ating his 

if under 
(he influ 
ence of a 
shame : 

If indolent 
or negli 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

other reason is there, why our courage sinks, and our strength 
fails, the moment the enemy makes even the slightest attack on 
us, but that we neglect by pious meditation, to kindle within 
us the fire of divine love, which animates and invigorates the 
soul ? But, should the priest perceive, that the penitent gives 
equivocal indications of true contrition, he will endeavour to in 
spire him with an anxious desire for it, inflamed by which he 
may resolve to ask and implore this heavenly gift from the mercy 
of God. 

The pride of some, who seek by vain excuses to justify or 
extenuate their offences, is carefully to be repressed. If, for 
instance, a penitent confesses that he was wrought up to anger, 
and immediately transfers the blame of the excitement to another, 
who, he complains, was the aggressor ; he is to be reminded, 
that such apologies are indications of a proud spirit, and of a 
man who either thinks lightly of, or is unacquainted with the 
enormity of his sin, whilst they serve rather to aggravate than 
extenuate his guilt. He, who thus labours to justify his con 
duct, seems to say, that then only will he exercise patience, 
when no one injures or offends him, a disposition than which 
nothing can be more unworthy of a Christian. A Christian 
should lament the state of him who inflicted the injury, and, 
yet, regardless of the grievousness of the sin, he is angry witli 
his brother : having had an opportunity of honouring God by 
his exemplary patience, and of correcting a brother by his Chris 
tian meekness, he converts the very means of salvation into the 
means of injuring his own soul. 

Still more pernicious is the conduct of those, who yielding to 
a foolish bashfulness, cannot induce themselves to confess their 
sins. Such persons are to be encouraged by exhortation, and to 
be reminded, that there is no reason whatever why they should 
yield to such false delicacy ; that to no one can it appear sur 
prising, if persons fall into sin, the common malady of the hu 
man race, and the natural appendage of human infirmity. 

There are others who, either because they seldom approach the 
tribunal of penance, or because they have bestowed no care or 
attention on the examination of their consciences, know not well 
how to begin or end their confession. Such persons deserve to 
be severely rebuked, and are to be taught that before any one 
approaches the tribunal of penance, he should employ every di 
ligence to excite himself to contrition for his sins, and that this 
he cannot do without endeavouring to know and recollect them 
severally. Should then the confessor meet persons of this class, 
entirely unprepared for confession, he should dismiss them 
without harshness, exhorting them in the kindest terms, to take 
some time to reflect on their sins, and then return; but, should 
they declare that they have already done every thing in their 
power to prepare, as there is reason to apprehend, that, if sent 
away, they may not return, their confession is to be heard, par 
ticularly if they manifest some disposition to amend their lives, 
and can be induced to accuse their own negligence, and promise 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 199 

to atone for it at another time, by a diligent and accurate scru 
tiny of conscience. In such cases, however, the confessor will 
proceed with caution. If, after having heard the confession, he 
is of opinion that the penitent did not want diligence in exa 
mining his conscience, or sorrow in detesting his sins, he may 
absolve him ; but if he has found him deficient in both, he will, 
as we have already said, admonish him to use greater care in 
his examination of conscience, and will dismiss him in the kind 
est manner. 

But as it sometimes happens, that females, who may have A remedy 
forgotten some sin in a former confession, cannot bring them- fa 
selves to return to the confessor, dreading to expose themselves the part of 
to the suspicion of having been guilty of something grievous, or tlie P 6 - 
of looking for the praise of extraordinary piety, the pastor will te 
frequently remind the faithful, both publicly and privately, that 
no one is gifted with so tenacious a memory, as to be able to 
recollect all his thoughts, words, and actions, that the faithful, 
therefore, should they call to mind any thing grievous, which 
they had previously forgotten, should not be deterred from re 
turning to the priest. These and many other matters of the 
same nature, demand the particular attention of the confessor in 
the tribunal of penance. 

We now come to the third part of penance, which is called Satisfac- 
satisfaction. We shall begin by explaining its nature and effi- tlon - 
cacy, because the enemies of the Catholic Church have hence 
taken ample occasion, to sow discord and division amongst Chris 
tians, to the no small injury of the Christian Commonwealth. 
Satisfaction, then, is the full payment of a debt, for when satis 
faction is made, nothing remains to be supplied. Hence, when 
we speak of reconciliation by grace, to satisfy is the same as to 
do that which may be sufficient to atone to the angered mind for 
an injury offered; and thus, satisfaction is nothing more than 
" compensation for an injury done to another." Hence theo 
logians make use of the word " satisfaction," to signify the com 
pensation made by man to God, by doing something in atone 
ment for the sins which he has committed. 

This sort of satisfaction, embracing, as it does, many degrees, Its diffe- 
admits of many acceptations. The first degree of satisfaction, rentde - 
and that which stands pre-eminently above all the rest, is that by gree -[" 
which whatever is due by us to God, on account of our sins, is 
paid abundantly, although he should deal with us according to 
the strictest rigour of his justice. This, we say, has appeased 
God and rendered him propitious to us, and for it we are in 
debted to Christ alone, who, having paid the price of our sins 
on the cross, offered to his Eternal Father a superabundant sa 
tisfaction. No created being could have paid so heavy a debt 
for us : " He is the propitiation for our sins," says St. John, 
" and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." 1 
This satisfaction, therefore, is full and superabundant, commen- 

i 1 John ii. 2. 

200 The, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

surate to all sorts of sins perpetrated by the human race : it gives 
to man s actions merit before God ; without it they could avail 
him nothing to eternal life. This David seems to have had in 
view, when, having asked himself, " what shall I render to the 
Lord, for all the things that he hath rendered to me ?"* and find 
ing nothing worthy of such blessings but this satisfaction, which 
he expressed by the word " chalice," he replies : " I will take 
the chalice of salvation, and I will call upon the name of the 
Lord." 3 

II. There is another sort of satisfaction, which is called canoni 

cal, and is performed within a certain fixed period of time. 
Hence, according to the most ancient practice of the Church, 
when penitents are absolved from their sins, some penance is 
imposed, the performance of which is commonly called " satis 

III. Any sort of punishment endured for sin, although not imposed 

by the priest, but spontaneously undertaken by the sinner, is 
also called by the same name : it belongs not, however, to 
penance as a sacrament: the satisfaction which constitutes part 
of the sacrament is, as we have already said, that which is 
imposed by the priest, and which must be accompanied with a 
deliberate and firm purpose carefully to avoid sin for the future. 
To satisfy, as some define it, is to pay due honour to God, and 
this, it is evident, no person can do, who is not resolved to 
avoid sin. To satisfy is also to cut off* all occasions of sin, and 
to close every avenue of the heart against its suggestions. In 
accordance with this idea of satisfaction, some have considered 
it a cleansing, which effaces whatever defilement may remain 
in the soul from the stains of sin, and which exempts us from 
the temporal chastisements due to sin. 

Necessity Such being the nature of satisfaction, it will not be found dif- 
ofsatisfac- f icu it to convince the faithful of the necessity imposed on the 
penitent, of satisfying for his sins : they are to be taught that 
sin carries in its train two evils, the stain which it affixes, and 
the punishment which it entails. The punishment of eternal 
death is, it is true, forgiven with the sin to which it was due, 
yet, as the Council of Trent declares, the stain is not always 
entirely effaced, nor is the temporal punishment always remit 
ted. 3 Of this the Scriptures afford many evident examples, as 
we find in the third chapter of Genesis, 4 in the twelfth and 
twenty-second of Numbers, 5 and in many other places. That 
of David, however, is the most conspicuous and illustrious. 
Already had Nathan announced to him : " The Lord also hath 
taken away thy sin, thou shalt not die ;" 8 yet the royal penitent 
voluntarily subjected himself to the most severe penance, im 
ploring, night and day, the mercy of God, in these words : 
" Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from 
my sin, for I know my iniquity and my sin is always before 

Ps. cxv. 12. 2 cxv. 13. * Sess. 14. c. 8. can. 12 et 14. 

Gen. iii. 17. * N urn. xii. 14. 22. 33, 34. 6 2 Kings xii. 1 a 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 201 

me." 1 Thus did he beseech God to pardon not only the crime, 
but also the punishment due to it, and to restore him, cleansed 
from the stains of sin, to his former state of purity and integrity. 
This is the object of his most earnest supplications to the 
throne of God, and yet the Almighty punishes his transgression 
with the death of his adulterous offspring, the rebellion and 
deatn of his beloved son Absalom, and with the other heavy 
chastisements with which his vengeance had already threatened 
him. In Exodus too the Almighty, although yielding to the 
importunity of Moses, he had spared the idolatrous Israelites, 
threatens the enormity of their crime with heavy chastisement; 3 
and Moses himself declares, that the Lord will take vengeance 
on it, even to the third and fourth generation. That such was 
at all times the doctrine of the Fathers, a reference to their 
writings will place beyond the possibility of doubt. 3 

Why in the sacrament of penance, as in that of baptism, the The pu- 
punishment due to sin is not entirely remitted, is admirably ex- jue^gf^ 
plained in these words of the Council of Trent: " Divine jus- whynotre- 
tice seems to require, that they who through ignorance sinned mitted by 
before baptism, should recover the friendship of God in a dif- 
fererit manner from those, who, freed from the thraldom of sin 
and the slavery of the devil, and having received the gifts of the 
Holy Ghost, dread not knowingly to violate the temple of God 
and grieve the Holy Spirit. It also consists with the divine 
mercy not to remit our sins without satisfaction, lest, taking oc 
casion hence, and imagining our sins less grievous than they 
are, injurious, as it were, and contumelious to the Holy Ghost, 
we fall into greater enormities, treasuring up to ourselves wrath 
against the day of wrath. These satisfactory penances have, no Advanta- 
doubt, great influence in restraining from sin, in bridling, as it ^onic I M 
were, the passions, and rendering the sinner more vigilant and nance, 
cautious for the future." 4 Another advantage resulting from * 
them is, that they serve as public testimonies of our sorrow for 
sin, and atone to the Church who is grievously insulted by the 
crimes of her children: " God," says St. Augustine, " despises 
not a contrite and humble heart, but, as heartfelt grief is gene 
rally concealed from others, and is not communicated by words 
or other signs, wisely, therefore, are penitential times appointed 
by those who preside over the Church, in order to atone to the 
Church, in which sins are forgiven." Besides, the example pre 
sented by our penitential practices, serves as a lesson to others, 
how to regulate their lives, and practise piety : seeing the pu 
nishments inflicted on sin, they must feel the necessity of using 
the greatest circumspection through life, and of correcting their 
former evil habits. The Church, therefore, with great wisdom 

1 Ps. 1. 4, 5. 2 Exod. xxxii. 8, 9. 

3 Vide Aug. lib. 2. de peccat. merit, et remiss, cap. 34. et contra Faust, lib. 22. 
cap. 66. et prsesertim in Joan, tractat. 124. paulo ante med. Greg. lib. 9. moral, cap. 
24. Chrysost. horn. 8. ad pop. Antioch. Interum. Aug. Ench. cap. 30. Ambr. de poen. 
lib. 2, cap. 5. vide item canones pcenitentiales apud Anton. Aug. vel in actis 

4 Sess. 14. de posnit. cap. 8. 


202 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Wisely in- ordained, that those who by their scandalous disorders may have 
KUtutedby gj ven public disedification, should atone for them by public 
Church. penance, that others may be thus deterred from their commis 
sion. This has sometimes been observed even with regard to 
secret sins, when marked by peculiar malignity. 1 But with re 
gard to public sinners, they, as we have already said, were 
never absolved until they had performed public penance. Mean 
while, the pastor poured out his prayers to God for their salva 
tion, and ceased not to exhort them to do the same. This salu 
tary practice gave active employment to the zeal and solicitude 
of St. Ambrose ; many, who came to the tribunal of penance 
hardened in sin, were by his tears softened into true contrition. 3 
But in process of time the severity of ancient discipline was so 
relaxed, and charity waxed so cold, that in our days many seem 
to think inward sorrow of soul and grief of heart unnecessary, 
and deem the semblance of sorrow sufficient. 

By pe- Again, by undergoing these penances we are made like unto 

nance we th e i ma g e o f Jesus Christ our head, inasmuch as he himself 
like unto suffered and was tempted, 3 and, as St. Bernard observes, "no- 
Christ, thing can appear so unseemly as a delicate member under a head 
crowned with thorns."* To use the words of the Apostle, "we 
are joint-heirs with Christ, yet so if we suffer with him;" 5 and 
again : " If we be dead with him, we shall live also with him ; 
if we suffer, we shall also reign with him." 6 

Two ef- St. Bernard also observes, that sin produces two effects in 

duceefin t ^ ie sou ^ ^ one ^ stam w ^ich it imparts, the other, the 
the soul by wound which it inflicts ; that the turpitude of sin is removed 
sin, remov- through the mercy of God, whilst to heal the wound inflict- 
nanc 5 e. Pe e( * t ^ ie me dicinal care applied by penance is most necessa 
ry ; for as after a wound has been healed, some scars remain 
which demand attention, so with regard to the soul, after the 
guilt of sin is forgiven, some of its effects remain, from which 
the soul requires to be cleansed. St. Chrysostome also fully 
confirms the same doctrine, when he says : " Not enough that 
the arrow has been extracted from the body, the wound which 
it inflicted must also be healed : so with regard to the soul, not 
enough that sin has been pardoned, the wound which it has 
left, must also be healed by penance." 7 St. Augustine, also, 
frequently teaches that penance exhibits at once the mercy and 
the justice of God, his mercy by which he pardons sin, and the 
eternal punishment due to sin, his justice by which he exacts 
temporary punishment from the sinner. 8 

Penance Finally, the punishment which the sinner endures, disarms 
disarms the fae ven g eance of God, and prevents the punishments decreed 

1 Vide Aug. lib. 5, de civit. Dei cap. 26. et ep. 54. et lib. 50. horn. 49. et de vera 
et falsa poen. passim. Ambr. lib. 2. de pcenit. c. 10. et citatur de poen. dist. 3. cap. 
reperiuntur. Cypr. de lapsis multis in locis. Cone. Agath. cap. 35. et citatur. dist. 
50. cap. poenitentes. 

2 Paulinus et ejus vita. 3 Heb. ii. 17. 4 Serm. 5. de omn. sanct 
s Rom. viii. 17. 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. 

7 Serm. 1. in cocna Domini. Horn. 80. ad Pop. Antioch. 
s In Ps. 1. ad hffic verba, ECCE EMM VENIT. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 203 

against us, according to these words of the Apostle : " If we Divine 
would judge ourselves, we should not be judged ; but whilst vengeance 
we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not 
condemned with this world." 1 These matters, if explained to 
the faithful, must have considerable influence in exciting them 
to penance. 

Of the great efficacy of penance we may form some idea, if The effica- 
we reflect that it arises entirely from the merits of the passion C Y of P 6 
of our Lord Jesus Christ : it is his passion that imparts to our ar ; ses en . 
good actions the two-fold quality of meriting the rewards of tirelyfrom 
eternal life, so that a cup of cold water given in his name shall ^o^ " 
not be without its reward, 3 and, also, of satisfying for our sins. 3 
Nor does this derogate from the most perfect and superabundant 
satisfaction of Christ, but, on the contrary, renders it still more 
conspicuous and illustrious ; the grace of Jesus Christ appears 
to abound more, inasmuch as it communicates to us not only 
what he alone merited, but also what, as head, he merited and 
paid in his members, that is, in holy and just men. This it is 
that imparts such weight and dignity to the good actions of the 
pious Christian ; for our Lord Jesus Christ continually infuses 
his grace into the devout soul united to him by charity, as the 
head to the members, or as the vine through the branches, and 
this grace always precedes, accompanies, and follows our good 
works : without it we can have no merit, nor can we at all sa 
tisfy God. Hence it is that nothing seems wanting to the just : 
by their works done by the power of God, they fulfil the divine 
law, as far as is compatible with our present condition, and can 
merit eternal life, to the fruition of which they shall be admit 
ted, if they depart this life adorned with divine grace : " He," 
says the Redeemer, " that shall drink of the water that I will 
give him, shall not thirst for ever; but the water that I will give 
him shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into 
life everlasting." 4 

In satisfaction two things are particularly required; the one, Twothmgs, 
that he who satisfies be in a state of grace, the friend of God : P artlcula| "- 
works done without faith and charity cannot be acceptable to r y ilTsads*" 
God : the other, that the works performed be such as are of faction, 
iheir own nature painful or laborious. They are a compensa 
tion for past sins, and, to use the words of St. Cyprian, " the 
redeemers, as it were, of sins," 5 and must, therefore, be such 
as we have described. It does not, however, always follow Note 
that they are painful or laborious to those who undergo them : 
the influence of habit or the intensity of divine love frequently 
renders the soul insensible to things the most difficult to be 
endured. Such works, however, do not, therefore, cease to be 
satisfactory : it is the privilege of the children of God to be 
so inflamed with his love, that whilst undergoing the most cruel 
tortures for his sake, they are either entirely insensible to them, 

i 1 Cor. xi. 31, 32. 2 Matt x. 42. 

3 Vid. de poenit. sess 14. cap. 8. et can. 13, 14. et sess. 6. de justific. c. 18. 

* John iv. 14. 5 Lib. 1. Epist. 3, post. med. 


Every sort 
of satisfac 
tion includ 
ed under 

Use and 
of afflic 

One can 

satisfy for 




The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

or at least bear them not only with fortitude but with the great 
est joy. 

The pastor will teach that every species of satisfaction is in 
cluded under these three heads, prayer, fasting, and alms-deeds, 
which correspond with these three sorts of goods, those of the 
soul, of the body, and what are called external goods, all of 
which are the gifts of God. Than these three sorts of satis 
faction, nothing can be more effectual in eradicating sin from 
the soul. Whatever is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the 
" lust of the eyes, or pride of life," 1 and fasting, alms-deeds, 
and prayer are, it is obvious, most judiciously employed as an 
tidotes to neutralize the operation of these three causes of spirit 
ual disease ; to the first is opposed fasting ; to the second, alms- 
deeds ; to the third, prayer. If, moreover, we consider those 
whom our sins injure, we shall easily perceive why all satisfac 
tion is referred principally to God, to our neighbour, and to our 
selves ; God we appease by prayer, our neighbour we sa 
tisfy by alms, and ourselves we chastise by fasting. 

But, as this life is checkered by many and various afflictions, 
the faithful are to be particularly reminded, that afflictions coming 
from the hand of God, if borne with patience, are an abundant 
source of satisfaction and of merit ; but, if borne with reluctant 
impatience, far from being the means of atoning for past sins, 
they are rather the instruments of the divine wrath, taking just 
vengeance on the sinner. 

But in this the mercy and goodness of God shine conspi 
cuous, and demand our grateful acknowledgments, that he has 
granted to our frailty the privilege that one may satisfy for an 
other. This, however, is a privilege which is confined to the 
satisfactory part of penance alone, and extends not to contrition 
and confession : no man can be contrite or confess for another ; 
whilst those who are gifted with divine grace may pay through 
others what is due to the divine justice, and thus we may be 
said in some measure to bear each other s burdens. 3 This is a 
doctrine on which the faithful cannot for a moment entertain a 
doubt, professing, as we do, in the Apostle s Creed, our belief 
in the " Communion of Saints." Regenerated, as we all are, 
to Christ in the same cleansing waters of baptism, partakers of 
the same sacraments, and, above all, of the same heavenly food, 
the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are all, it is 
manifest, members of the same mystical body. As then the 
foot does not perform its functions solely for itself, but also for 
sake of the other members, and as the other members perform 
their respective functions, not only for their own, but also for 
the common good ; so works of satisfaction are common to all 
the members of the Church. This, however, is not universally 
true in reference to all the advantages to be derived from works 
of satisfaction : of these works some are also medicinal, and 
are so many specific remedies prescribed to the penitent, to heal 

1 John ii. 16. 

2 Gal. vi. 2. 

On the Sacrament of Penance. 205 

the depraved affections of the heart; a fruit which, it is evident, 
they alone can derive from them, who satisfy for themselves. 
Of these particulars touching the three parts of penance, con 
trition, confession, and satisfaction, it is the duty of the pastor 
to give an ample and clear exposition. 

The confessor, however, will be scrupulously careful, before No person 

he absolves the penitent whose confession he has heard, to in- to b e ab- 

.,.11, ., ,., . .. i t* i solved, un- 

sist that ii he has been really guilty ot having injured his neigh- til he has 

hour in property or character, he make reparation for the injury : promised 
no person is to be absolved until he has first faithfully promised to ^;/ 
to repair fully the injury done ; and, as there are many who, the injury 
although free to make large promises to comply with their duty done - 
in this respect, are yet deliberately determined not to fulfil 
them, they should be obliged to make restitution, and the words 
of the Apostle are to be strongly and frequently pressed upon 
upon their minds : " He that stole,, let him now steal no more ; 
but rather let him labour working with his hands the thing 
which is good, that he may have something to give to him that 
suflereth need." 1 

But, in imposing penance, the confessor will do nothing ar- Penance 
bitrarily ; he will be guided solely by justice, prudence, and |^ w l d 
piety ; and in order to follow this rule, and also to impress more 
deeply on the mind of the penitent the enormity of sin, he will 
find it expedient to remind him of the severe punishments in 
flicted by the ancient penitential canons, as they are called, for 
certain sins. The nature of the sin, therefore, will regulate 
the extent of the satisfaction : but no satisfaction can be more 
salutary than to require of the penitent to devote, for a certain 
number of days, a certain portion of time to prayer, not omit 
ting to supplicate the divine mercy in behalf of all mankind, 
and particularly for those who have departed this life in the 
Lord. Penitents should, also, be exhorted to undertake of their 
own accord, the frequent performance of the penances usually 
imposed by the confessor, and so to order the tenor of their fu 
ture lives that, having faithfully complied with every thing which 
the sacrament of Penance demands, they may never cease stu 
diously to practise the virtue of penance. But, should it be Public 
deemed proper sometimes to visit public crimes with public pe- crimes to 
nance, and should the penitent express great reluctance to submit vJjth pub- 
to its performance, his importunity is not to be readily yielded He pe- 
to : he should be persuaded to embrace with cheerfulness that nance - 
which is so salutary to himself and to others. These things, 
which regard the sacrament of Penance and its several parts, 
the pastor will teach in such a manner as to enable the faithful 
not only to understand them perfectly, but, also, with the 
Divine assistance, piously and religiously to reduce them to 

Ephes. iv. 28. 

206 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 


ThisSacra- " IN all thy works," says Ecclesiasticus, " remember thy 

n ^ ent ,, , last end, and thou shalt never sin ;"* words which convey to 
should be . ..... . * 

the subject the pastor a silent admonition, to omit no opportunity of exhort- 

of frequent ing the faithful to constant meditation on their last end. The 
lon> sacrament of Extreme Unction, because inseparably associated 
. with this awful recollection, should, it is obvious, form a sub 
ject of frequent instruction, not only inasmuch as it is eminently 
useful to develope the mysteries of salvation, but also because 
death, the inevitable doom of all men, when frequently recalled 
to the minds of the faithful, represses the licentiousness of de 
praved passion. Thus shall they be less appalled by the ter 
rors of approaching dissolution, and will pour forth their gra 
titude in endless praises to God, whose goodness has not only 
opened to us the way to true life in the sacrament of Baptism, 
but has also instituted that of Extreme Unction, to afford us, 
when departing this mortal life, an easier access to heaven. 
ThisSacra- In order, therefore, to follow, in a great measure, the same 
ment why order observed in the exposition of the other sacraments, we 
trcme Unc- wi ^ ^ rst s ^ow that this sacrament is called " Extreme Unction," 
tioii. because amongst the other unctions prescribed by our Lord to 

his Church, this is the last to be administered. It was hence 
called by our predecessors in the faith, " the sacrament of the 
anointing of the sick," and also, " the sacrament of dying per 
sons," names which naturally lead the minds of the faithful to 
the remembrance of that last awful hour. 3 

Proved to That Extreme Unction is, strictly speaking, a sacrament, is 
a Sacra- fj rst to j-, e explained ; and this the words of St. James, promul- 
1. gating the law of this sacrament, clearly establish : " Is any 
man," says he, " sick amongst you ? Let him bring in the 
priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing 
him with oil in the name of the Lord : and the prayer of faith 
shall save the sick man ; and the Lord shall raise him up ; and 
if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him." 3 When the 
Apostle says : " if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him," 
he ascribes to Extreme Unction, at once the nature and efficacy 
II of a sacrament. That such has been at all times the doctrine 
of the Catholic Church, many Councils testify, and the Coun 
cil of Trent denounces anathema against all who presume to 
teach or think otherwise. 4 Innocent III., also, recommends 
this sacrament with great earnestness to the attention of the 
Note. faithful. 5 The pastor, therefore, will teach that extreme Unc- 

1 Eccles. vii. 40. 

3 Vid. Hugon. de Sacr. part. 15. c. 2. Pet. Dam. serm. 1. de dedicat. Eccles. 
3 James v. 14. 4 Sess. 43. de Extreni. Unc. c. 1. et can. 3. 

s Innoc. ep. 1. ad Decent, c. 8. et citatur dist. 95. c. illud superfluum: .ter 
Cone. Cabilon. c. 48 Wormacience c. 72. Constan. et Floren. 

On the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 207 

tion is a true sacrament, and that, although administered with 
many unctions, performed each with a peculiar prayer, and un 
der a peculiar form, it constitutes but one sacrament one, not 
by the inseparable continuity of its parts, but, like every thing 
composed of parts, by the perfection of the whole. As an edi 
fice which consists of a great variety of parts, derives its per 
fection from one form, so is this sacrament, although composed 
of many and different things, but one sign, and its efficacy is 
that of one thing of which it is the sign. 

The pastor will also teach what are the component parts of Its matter 
this Sacrament, its matter and form : these St. James does not 
omit, and each is replete with its own peculiar mysteries. 1 Its 
element, then, or matter, as defined by many Councils, particu 
larly by the Council of Trent, consists of oil of olives, conse 
crated by episcopal hands. No other sort of oil can be the mat 
ter of this Sacrament ; and this its matter is most significant of 
its efficacy. Oil is very efficacious in soothing bodily pain, 
and this Sacrament sooths and alleviates the pain and anguish 
of the soul. Oil also contributes to restore health and spirits, 
serves to give light, and refreshes fatigue ; and these effects cor 
respond with and are expressive of those produced, through 
the divine power, on the sick, by the administration of this Sa 
crament. These few words will suffice in explanation of the 

With regard to the form, it consists of the following words, n s form, 
which contain a solemn prayer, and are used at each anointing, 
according to the sense to which the unction is applied : " BY 
SMELL, TOUCH, &c. &c." That this is the true form of this Sa 
crament, we learn from these words of St. James : " Let them 
pray over him, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick 
man ;" 3 words which intimate that the form is to be applied by 
way of prayer, although the Apostle does not say of what par 
ticular words that prayer is to consist. But this form has been 
handed down to us by apostolic tradition, and is universally re 
tained, as observed by the Church of Rome, the mother and 
mistress of all churches. Some, it is true, alter a few words, 
as when for " God indulge thee," they say, " God remit," or 
" spare," and sometimes, " heal whatever thou hast committed ;" 
but the sense is evidently the same, and, of course, the form 
observed by all is strictly the same. Nor should it excite our Expressed 
surprise that, whilst the form of each of the other Sacraments b ^ 
either absolutely signifies what it expresses, such as, " I baptise w h y . 
thee," or " I sign thee with the sign of the cross," or is pro 
nounced, as it were, by way of a command, as in administering 
Holy Orders, " Receive power," the form of Extreme Unction 
alone is expressed by way of prayer. The propriety of this 
difference will at once appear, if we reflect, that this Sacrament 

i James v. 14. 2 James v. 11. 15. 

208 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

is administered not only for the health of the soul, but also for 
that of the body ; and as it does not please Divine Providence, 
at all times, to restore health to the sick, the form consists of a 
prayer, by which we beg of the divine bounty that which is not 
a constant and uniform effect of the Sacrament. 

Adminis- In the administration of this Sacrament, peculiar rites are also 

tration of use d ; but they consist principally of prayers, offered by the 

iJent, why priest for the recovery of the sick person. There is no Sacra- 

accompa- ment the administration of which is accompanied with more 

ied with numerous prayers ; and with good reason, for then, in a special 

ers. manner, the faithful require the assistance of pious prayers 

Not only the pastor, in the first place, but, also, all who may be 

present, should pour out their fervent aspirations to the throne 

of grace, in behalf of the sick person, earnestly recommending 

him, soul and body, to the divine mercy. 

ThisSa- Having thus shown that Extreme Unction is to be numbered 

crament amongst the Sacraments, we infer, and the inference is just, 
by* Christ. lnat ^ owes its institution to our Lord Jesus Christ, and was 
subsequently made known and promulgated to the faithful, by 
the Apostle St. James. Our Lord himself, would, however, 
seem to have given some indication of it, when he sent his dis 
ciples, two and two, before him ; for the Evangelist informs us 
that " going forth, they preached that all should do penance ; 
and they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many 
Note. who were sick, and healed them." 1 This anointing cannot be 
supposed to have been invented by the Apostles : it was com 
manded by our Lord. Nor did its efficacy arise from any na 
tural virtue peculiar to oil ; its efficacy is mystical, having been 
instituted to heal the maladies of the soul, rather than to cure 
the diseases of the body. This is the doctrine taught by the 
Fathers of the Church, by the Denises, the Ambroses, the 
Chrysostomes, by Gregory the Great ; and Extreme Unction is 
to be recognised and venerated as one of the Sacraments of the 
Catholic Church. 

Extreme But although instituted for the use of all, Extreme Unction is 
rt.on, to no t to be administered indiscriminately to all. In the first place, 
when to be ^ * s not to ^ e administered to persons in sound health, accord- 
.ulminis- ing to these words of St. James : " Is any one sick amongst 
you ?" a and, as reason also proves, it was instituted as a remedy 
not only for the diseases of the soul, but also for those of the 
body : this can apply to the sick only, and therefore, this Sa 
crament is to be administered to those only, whose malady is 
such as to excite apprehensions of approaching dissolution. It 
is, however, a very grievous sin to defer the Holy Unction 
until, all hope of recovery now lost, life begins to ebb, and the 
sick person is fast verging into a state of insensibility. It is 
obvious that if administered whilst the mental faculties are yet 
unimpaired, whilst reason still exercises her dominion, and the 
mind is capable eliciting acts of faith, and of directing the will 

1 Markvi. 12, 13. James v. 14 

On the, Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 

to sentiments of piety, the Sacrament must contribute to a more 
abundant participation of the graces which it imparts. This 
heavenly medicine, therefore, in itself at all times salutary, the 
pastor will be careful to apply, when its efficacy can be aided 
by the piety and devotion of the sick person. Extreme Unc 
tion, then, can be administered only to the sick, and not to per 
sons in health, although engaged in any thing however danger 
ous, such as a perilous voyage, or the fatal dangers of battle. 
It cannot be administered even to persons condemned to death, 
and already ordered for execution. Its participation is also de 
nied to insane persons, and to children incapable of committing 
sin, who, therefore, do not require to be purified from its stains, 
and also to those who labour under the awful visitation of mad 
ness, unless they give indications, in their lucid intervals, of a 
disposition to piety, and express a desire to be anointed. To 
persons insane from their birth, this Sacrament is not to be ad 
ministered; but if a sick person, whilst in the possession of his 
faculties, expressed a wish to receive Extreme Unction, and 
afterwards becomes delirious, he is to be anointed. 

The Sacred Unction is to be applied not to the entire body, How to he 
but to the organs of sense only to the eyes the organs of sight, 
to the ears of hearing, to the nostrils of smelling, to the mouth 
of taste and speech, to the hands of touch. The sense of touch, 
it is true, is diffused throughout the entire body, yet the hands 
are its peculiar seat. This manner of administering Extreme 
Unction is observed throughout the universal Church, and ac 
cords with the medicinal nature of this Sacrament. As in cor 
poral disease, although it affects the entire body, yet the cure 
is applied to that part only which is the seat of the disease, so 
in spiritual malady, this Sacrament is applied not to the entire 
body, but to those members which are properly the organs of 
sense, and also to the loins, which are, as it were, the seat of 
concupiscence, and to the feet, by which we move from one 
place to another. 

Here it is to be observed, that, during the same illness, and It may i>e 
whilst the danger of dying continues the same, the sick person ^(f ^hen 
is to be anointed but once ; should he, however, recover after he 
has been anointed, he may receive the aid of this Sacrament, 
as often as he shall have relapsed into the same danger. This 
Sacrament, therefore, is evidently to be numbered amongst those 
which may be repeated. 

But as every obstacle which may impede its efficacy should Prepara- 
be removed with the greatest care, and as nothing is more op- l j*.f* [ 
posed to it than a state of mortal guilt, the pastor will follow the worthily, 
uniform practice of the Catholic Church, and not administer 
Extreme Unction, until the penitent has confessed and received. 
He will then earnestly exhort the sick person, to receive this 
Sacrament with the same sentiments of faith which animated 
the primitive Christians, who presented themselves to the Apos 
tles to be healed by them. The health of the soul is to be the 
first object of the sick man s prayers, the second, that of the 
18* 2 D 

210 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

body, should it tend to his eternal interests. The faithful should 
be convinced, that the solemn and holy prayers, which are 
offered by the priest, not in his own name, but in that of the 
Church and of its divine Founder, are heard by Almighty God ; 
and they cannot be too earnestly exhorted, to be careful to ac- 
company-the administration of the Sacrament, with all the sanc 
tity and religious fervour that become that awful hour, when the 
dying Christian is about to engage in the last conflict, and the 
energies of the mind as well as of the body seem to be enfee 

The minis- With regard to the minister of Extreme Unction, this too we 
Sacrament ^ earn ^ rom ^ James, when he says : " Let him bring in the 
priests r" 1 by the word "priests," as the Council of Trent has 
defined, 3 he does not mean elders or persons advanced in years, 
or of elevated rank, but priests duly ordained by bishops with 
the imposition of hands. The administration of this Sacrament, 
therefore, is committed to priests, not however to every priest, 
in accordance with the decree of the Church ; but to the proper 
priest, who has jurisdiction, or to another authorized by him. 
Note. In this, as in the other Sacraments, it is also to be distinctly 
recollected, that the priest is the representative of Jesus Christ 
and of his Church. 

Itsadvan- The advantages, which flow from this Sacrament, are also to 

ta g es - be explained more minutely, that if the sick are influenced by 

no other consideration, they may, at least, yield to this, for we 

I. are disposed to measure every thing by its utility. The pastor, 
therefore, will teach, that the grace of this Sacrament remits sins, 
especially lighter offences, or, as they are commonly called, venial 
sins. Its primary object is not to remit mortal sins. For this 
the Sacrament of penance was instituted, as was that of baptism 

II. for the remission of original sin. Another advantage arising 
from Extreme Unction is, that it removes the languor and in 
firmity entailed by sin, with all its other inconveniences. The 
time most seasonable for the application of this cure is, when 
we are visited by some severe malady, which threatens to prove 
fatal ; for nature dreads no earthly visitation so much as death, 
and this dread is considerably augmented by the recollection of 
our past sins, particularly if the mind is harrowed up by the 
poignant reproaches of conscience ; as it is written : " They 
shall come with fear at the thought of their sins, and their ini 
quities shall stand against them to convict them." 3 A source 
of alarm still more distressing is the awful reflection, that, in a 
few moments, we shall stand before the judgment-seat of God, 
whose justice will award that sentence, which our lives may 
have deserved. The terror inspired by these considerations 
frequently agitates the soul with the most awful apprehensions ; 
and to calm this terror nothing can be so efficacious as the Sa 
crament of Extreme Unction. It quiets our fear, illumines the 
gloom in which the soul is enveloped, fills it with pious and 

James v. 14. 2 Sess. 14, c. 3. 3 Wisdom iv. 20 

On the, Sacrament of Orders. 21 1 

holy joy, and enables us to wait with cheerfulness the coming 
of the Lord, prepared to yield up all that we have received from 
his bounty, whenever he is pleased to summon us from this 
world of wo. Another, and the most important advantage de- IV- 
rived from Extreme Unction, is, that it fortifies us against the 
violent assaults of Satan. The enemy of mankind never ceases 
to seek our ruin : but to complete our destruction, and, if possi 
ble, deprive us of all hope of mercy, he more than ever increases 
his efforts, when he sees us approach our last end. This Sa 
crament, therefore, arms and strengthens the faithful against the 
violence of his assaults, and enables them to fight resolutely and 
successfully against him. Tranquillized and encouraged by the 
hope of the divine mercy, the soul bears up with fortitude 
against every difficulty, experiences an alleviation of the burden 
of sickness, and eludes with greater ease, the artifice and cun 
ning of the enemy, who lies in wait for her. Finally, the re- V 
covery of health, if advantageous to the sick person, is another 
effect of this Sacrament. However, should this effect not follow, 
it arises not from any defect in the Sacrament, but from weak 
ness of faith on the part of him by whom it is received, or of 
him by whom it is administered ; for the Evangelist informs us, 
that our Lord wrought not many miracles amongst his country 
men, because of their incredulity. 1 It may, however, be pro- Note, 
per to observe, that Christianity, now that it has taken deep 
root in the minds of men, stands less in need of the aid of such 
miracles in our days, than in the early ages of the Church. 
Nevertheless, our faith is here to be strongly excited, and what 
ever it may please God in his wisdom to do with regard to the 
health of the body, the faithful should be animated with an as 
sured hope of receiving from it spiritual health and strength, 
and of experiencing, at the hour of their dissolution, the truth 
of these consoling words : " Blessed are the dead who die in 
the Lord." 3 

We have thus briefly explained the sacrament of Extreme 
Unction. If the heads of the matter be developed by the pas 
tor more at large, with the diligence which their importance de 
mands, the faithful, no doubt, will derive from their exposition 
abundant fruit of piety. 


FROM an attentive consideration of the nature of the other The Sacra- 
Sacraments we shall find little difficulty in perceiving, that, so ment f 
dependent are they all on that of orders, that without its inter- w hy to be 
vention some could not exist, or be administered, whilst others explained 

1 Matt. xiii. 58. 2 Apoc. xiv. 13. 

212 The. Catechism of the Cc until of Trent. 

to the pco- nould be stripped of the religious rites and solemn ceremonies 
ind of that exterior respect which should accompany their ad 
ministration. The pastor, therefore, following up his exposi 
tion of the sacraments, will deem it a duty to bestow, also, o 
the Sacrament of Orders, an attention proportioned to its im- 
.. portance. This exposition cannot fail to prove salutary, in the 
first place, to the pastor himself, in the next place, to those who 
may have embraced the ecclesiastical state, and finally to the 
faithful at large to the pastor himself, because, whilst explain 
ing this Sacrament to others, he himself is excited to stir up 
within him the grace which he received at his ordination to 

II. others whom the Lord has called to his sanctuary, by inspiring 
them with the same love of piety, and imparting to them a 
knowledge of those things which will quality them the more 

III. easily to advance to higher orders to the faithful at large, by 
making known to them the respect due to the ministers of reli- 

IV. gion. It also not unfrequently occurs, that, amongst the faith 
ful there are many who intend their children for the ministry 
whilst yet young, and some who are themselves candidates for 
that holy state ; and it is proper that such persons should not 
be entirely unacquainted with its nature and obligations. 1 

Dignity of The faithful then are to be made acquainted with the exalted 
dignity and excellence of this sacrament in its highest degree, 
which is the priesthood. Priests and bishops are, as it were, 
the interpreters and heralds of God, commissioned in his name 
to teach mankind the law of God, and the precepts of a Chris 
tian life they are the representatives of God upon earth. Im 
possible, theiefore, to conceive a more exalted dignity, or func 
tions more sacred. Justly, therefore, are they called not only 
angels, 3 but gods, 3 holding, as they do, the place and power 
and authority of God on earth. But the priesthood, at all 
times an elevated office, transcends in the New Law all others 
in dignity. The power of consecrating and offering the body 
and blood of our Lord and of remitting sin, with which the 
priesthood of the New Law is invested, is such as cannot be 
comprehended by the human mind, still less is it equalled by, 
or assimilated to, any thing on earth. Again, as Christ was 
sent by the Father, 4 the Apostles and Disciples by Christ, 5 
even so are priests invested with the same power, and sent " for 
the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and 
the edification of the body of Christ." 8 

Those who This office, therefore, is not to be rashly imposed on any 
are to re- one : to those only it is to be intrusted, who, by the sanctity 

1 Qui special ad mores eorum qui in aliquo ordine ecclesiaslico sunt, videndum 
esl, immo sciendum Cone. Trid. in posleriore parte cujusque sessionis, quae esl de 
reformatione ; quod vero altinet a ordinem ut est sacramentum, vide idem Cone, 
sess. 13. el de singulis ordmationibus vide Cone. Carlhag. IV. sub Anastasio Ponti- 
fice. anno 398. 

2 Mai. ii. 7. 3 Ps. Ixxxi. 6. < John viii. 36. * Matt, xxvni. 19. 

6 Ephes. iv. 12. De sacerdotii dignitate vide Ignat. epist ad Smyrn. Amb. lib. 
5. epist 32. et lib. 10. ep. 82. Chrysost. horn. 60. ad pop. Antioch, et in Mall, horn- 
83. Wazian. oral. 17. ad suos cives. 

On the Sacrament of Orders. 213 

of their lives, by their knowledge, their faith, and their pru- ceive Or- 
dence, are capable of sustaining its weight : " Nor let any one ^Ji^ 1 . 
take this honour to himself," says the Apostle, " but he that is their view s 
called by God as Aaron was." 1 This call from God we recog- anddispo- 
nise, in that of the lawful ministers of his Church. Of those, S1 
who would arrogantly obtrude themselves into the sanctuary, 
the Lord has said : " I sent not the prophets, and yet they ran :" a 
such sacrilegious intruders bring the greatest misery on them 
selves, and the heaviest calamities on the Church of God. 3 But 
as in every undertaking the end proposed is of the highest im 
portance, (when the end is good, every thing proceeds well) 
the candidate for the ministry should first of all be admonished 
to propose to himself no motive unworthy of so exalted a sta 
tion ; an admonition which demands particular attention in these 
our days, when the faithful are but too unmindful of its spirit: 
there are those who aspire to the priesthood with a view to 
secure to themselves a livelihood, who, like worldlings in mat 
ters of trade or commerce, look to nothing but sordid elf. 
True, the natural and divine law command, that to use the 
words of the Apostle, " he that serves the altar, should live by 
the altar;" 4 but to approach the altar for gain, this indeed were 
a sacrilege of the blackest die. Others there are whom a love 
of honours, and a spirit of ambition conduct to the altar ; others 
whom the gold of the sanctuary attracts ; and of this we require 
no other proof than that they have no idea of embracing the 
ecclesiastical state unless preferred to some rich ecclesiastical 
benefice. These are they whom the Lord denounces as " hire 
lings," 5 who, to use the words of Ezekiel, " feed themselves, 
and not the sheep." 8 Their turpitude and profligacy have not 
only tarnished the lustre and degraded the dignity of the sacer 
dotal character in the eyes of the faithful, but the priesthood 
brings to them in its train the same rewards which the Apostle- 
ship brought to Judas eternal perdition. 

But they who, in obedience to the legitimate call of God, un 
dertake the priestly office, solely with a view to promote his 
glory, are truly said " to enter by the door." The obligation 
of promoting his glory is not confined to them alone ; for this 
were all men created this the faithful in particular, consecrated, 
as they have been, by baptism to God, should promote with 
their whole hearts, their whole souls, and with all their strength. 
Not enough, therefore, that the candidate for holy orders propose 
to himself to seek in all things the glory of God, a duty com 
mon alike to all men, and particularly incumbent on the faithful : 
he must also be resolved to serve God in holiness and right 
eousness, in the particular sphere in which his ministry is to 
be exercised. As in an army, all obey the command of the 
general, whilst amongst them some hold the place of colonel, 
some of captain, and others, stations of subordinate rank : so in 

Heb. v. 4. 2 Jerem. xxiii. 21. 3 Vid. dist, 23. multis in capitibus. 

1 Cor. ix. 13. 5 John x. 12. 6 Ezek. xxxiv. 1. 

The power 
by the Sa 
crament of 
two-fold, of 
tion, and of 

of this 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

the Church, whilst all without distinction should be earnest in 
the pursuit of piety and innocence, the principal means of ren 
dering homage to God ; to those, however, who are initiated in 
the Sacrament of Orders, special offices belong, on them special 
functions devolve to offer sacrifice for themselves, and for all 
the people to instruct others in the law of God to exhort and 
form them to a faithful and ready compliance with its injunc 
tions and to adminster the Sacraments, the sources of grace. 
In a word, set apart from the rest of the people, they are en 
gaged in a ministry the most sacred and the most exalted. 

Having explained these matters to the faithful, the pastor will 
next proceed to expound those things which are peculiar to this 
Sacrament, that thus the candidate for orders may be enabled to 
form a just estimate of the nature of the office to which he as 
pires, and to know the extent of the power conferred by Al 
mighty God on his Church and her ministers. This power is 
two-fold, of jurisdiction, and of orders : the power of orders 
has reference to the body of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy 
Eucharist, that of jurisdiction to his mystical body, the Church; 
for to this latter belong the government of his spiritual kingdom 
on earth, and the direction of the faithful in the way of salva 
tion. In the power of Orders is included not only that of con 
secrating the Holy Eucharist, but also of preparing the soul for 
its worthy reception, and whatever else has reference to the 
sacred mysteries. Of this the Scriptures afford numerous at 
testations, amongst which the most striking and weighty are 
contained in the words recorded by St. John and St. Matthew 
on this subject: "As the Father hath sent me," says the Re 
deemer, " I send you : Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins 
you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you 
shall retain, they are retained ;"* and again, " Amen, I say unto 
you, whatever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in 
heaven ; and whatever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed 
also in heaven." 3 These passages, if expounded by the pastor 
from the doctrine, and on the authority of the Fathers, will shed 
considerable light on this important subject. 

This power far transcends that which was given to those, 
who, under the law of nature, exercised a special superintend 
ence over sacred things. 3 The age anterior to the written law 
must have had its priesthood, a priesthood invested with spirit 
ual power: that it had a law cannot be questioned : and so in 
timately interwoven are these two things with one another, that, 
take away one, you of necessity remove the other. 4 As then, 
prompted by the dictate of the instinctive feelings of his nature, 
man recognises the worship of God as a duty, it follows as a 
necessary consequence, that, under every form of government, 
some persons must have been constituted the official guardians 

l John xx. 2], 22, 23. 2 Matt, xviii. 18. 

s Vid. de consecr. dist. 2. cap. nihil in sacrificiis, Cone. Trid. sess. 22. cap. 1. Iren. 
lio. 4. c. 34. Aug. lib. 19. de civil. Dei, cap. 23. 
< Heb. vii. 12. 

On the Sacrament of Orders. 215 

of sacred things, the legitimate ministers of the divine worship; 
and of such persons the power might, in a certain sense, be 
(sailed spiritual. 

With this power the priesthood of the Old Law was also in 
vested ; but, although superior in dignity to that exercised un 
der the law of nature, it was far inferior to the spiritual power 
enjoyed under the Gospel dispensation. The power, with 
which the Christian priesthood is clothed, is a heavenly power, 
raised above that of angels : it has its source not in the Leviti- 
cal priesthood, but in Christ the Lord, who was a priest not 
according to Aaron, but according to the order of Melchise- 
dech. 1 He it is who, endowed with supreme authority to 
grant pardon and grace, has bequeathed this power to his 
Church, a power limited, however, in its extent, and attached 
to the sacraments. 

To exercise this power, therefore, ministers are appointed Name of 
and solemnly consecrated, and this solemn consecration is de- thls Sacra- 
nominated " Ordination," or " the Sacrament of Orders." To 
designate this Sacrament, the word " Orders" has been made 
use of by the Holy Fathers, because its signification is very 
comprehensive, and, therefore, well adapted to convey an idea 
of the dignity and excellence of the ministers of God. Under 
stood in its strict and proper acceptation, order is the disposition 
of superior and subordinate parts, which, when united, present 
a combination so harmonious as to stand in mutual and accord 
ant relations. Comprising then, as the ministry does, many 
gradations and various functions, and disposed, as all these gra 
dations and functions are, with the greatest regularity, this Sacra 
ment is very appropriately called " the Sacrament of Orders," 

That Holy Orders are to be numbered amongst the Sacra- Orders, a 
ments of the Church, the Council of Trent establishes on the Sacrament, 
same principle to which we have so often referred in proving 
the other Sacraments. A Sacrament is a sensible sign of an 
invisible grace, and with these characters Holy Orders are in 
vested : their external forms are a sensible sign of the grace 
and power which they confer on the receiver : Holy Orders, 
therefore, are really and truly a Sacrament. 2 Hence the bishop, 
handing to the candidate for priest s orders, a chalice which 
contains wine and water, and a patena with bread, says : " Re 
ceive the power of offering Sacrifice," &c., words which, 
according to the uniform interpretation of the Church, impart 
power, when the proper matter is supplied, of consecrating the 
Holy Eucharist, and impress a character on the soul. To this 
power is annexed grace duly and lawfully to discharge the 
priestly office, according to these words of the Apostle: "I 
admonish thee, that th :-u stir up the grace of God which is in 

1 Heb. vii. 11. 

2 Sess. 23. de online, ordinem esse sacramentum vid. Trid. sess. 23. de ordine. c. 
I. et 3. et can. 3, 4, 5. Cone. Florent. in decret. de sacr. Aug. lib. 2. contr. epist. 
Parmen. cap. 13. de bono conjug. cap. 24. et lib. 1. de bapt. contra Donat. c 1. 
Leo. epist. 18. Greg, in c. 10. libr. 1. Reg. 


J 1 6 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

thee, by the imposition of my hands ; for God hath not 
given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of 
sobriety." 1 

Number of With regard to the number of orders, to use the words of the 
Council of Trent, " As the ministry of so exalted a priesthood 
is a divine thing, it was meet, in order to surround it with the 
greater dignity and veneration, that in the admirable economy 
of the Church there should be several distinct orders of minis 
ters, intended by their office to serve the priesthood, and so 
disposed, as that, beginning with the clerical tonsure, they may 
ascend gradually through .the lesser to the greater orders." 
Their number, according to the uniform and universal doctrine 
of the Catholic Church, is seven, Porter, Reader, Exorcist, 
Acolyte, Sub-deacon, Deacon, and Priest. 3 That these compose 
the number of ministers in the Church may be proved from the 
functions necessary to the solemn celebration of Mass, and to 
the consecration and administration of the Holy Eucharist, for 
which they were principally instituted. Of these some are 
greater, which are also called " Holy," some lesser, which are 
called " Minor Orders." The greater or Holy Orders are Sub- 
deaconship, Deaconship, and Priesthood; the lesser or Minor 
Orders are Porter, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte. To facili 
tate the duty of the pastor, particularly when conveying instruc 
tion to those who are about to be initiated in any of the orders, 
it is necessary to say a few words on each. 

We shall begin with the tonsure, which is a sort of prepara 
tion for receiving orders : As persons are prepared for baptism 
by exorcisms, and for marriage by espousals, so those who are 
consecrated to God by tonsure, are prepared for admission to 
the Sacrament of Orders. Tonsure declares what manner of 
person he should be, who desires to receive orders : the name 
of " Clerk," (clericus) which he receives then for the first time, 
implies 3 that thenceforward he has taken the Lord for his inhe 
ritance, like those who, in the Old Law, were consecrated to 
the service of God, and to whom the Lord forbade that any por 
tion of the ground should be distributed in the land of promise, 
saying, " I am thy portion and thy inheritance."* This, al 
though true of all Christians, applies in a special manner to 
those who have been consecrated to the ministry. 5 In tonsure 
the hair of the head is cut in form of a crown, and should be 
worn in that form, enlarging the crown according as the eccle 
siastic advances in Orders. This form of the Tonsure the Church 
teaches to be of Apostolic origin : it is mentioned by the most 
ancient and venerable Fathers, by St. Denis the Areopagite, 6 

1 Tim. i. 6. 

2 Horum ordinum rr.eminerunt Dionys. lib. Eccl. Hier. cap. 3. Cornel. Papa in 
epist ad Fab. episcop Antioch. extat apud Euseh. Hist. Eccles, lib. 6. cap. 35 
Cone. Garth. 4. can. 4. et seq. Ignat. epist. ad Antioch. 

3 xMe 35, sors. a lot. T. 4 Num. xviii. 20. 
6 Vid. Hieron. epist. 2. ad Nepot. et citatur 12. q. 1. c. clericus. 
6 Dionys. de Eccles. Hier. c. 6. part. 2. 

its form, 
origin, and 

On the Sacrament of Orders. 217 

by St. Augustine, 1 and by St. Jerome. 3 According to these 
venerable personages the Tonsure was first introduced by the 
prince of the Apostles, in honour of the crown of thorns which 
was pressed upon the head of the Redeemer ; that the instrument 
devised by the impiety of the Jews for the ignominy and tor 
ture of Christ may be worn by his Apostles as their ornament 
and glory. It was also intended to signify that the ministers 
of religion are, in all things, so to comport themselves, as to 
carry about them the figure and the likeness of Christ. Some, 
however, assert that tonsure is an emblem of the royal dignity, 
which belongs peculiarly to those who are specially called to 
the inheritance of God : for to the ministers of the Church be 
longs, in a peculiar manner, what the Apostle Peter says of 
all Christians : " You -are a chosen generation, a royal priest 
hood, a holy nation." 3 Others are of opinion that tonsure, 
which is cut in form of a circle, the most perfect of all figures, 
is emblematic of the superior perfection of the ecclesiastical 
state ; or that, as it consists of cutting off hair, which is a sort 
of superfluity, it implies a contempt of worldly things, and a 
detachment from all earthly cares and concerns. 

The order of Porter follows Tonsure : its duty consists in Porter, 
taking care of the keys and door of the Church, and in suf 
fering none to enter to whom entrance is prohibited. The Por 
ter also assisted at the Holy Sacrifice, and took care that no one 
should approach too near the altar or interrupt the celebrant. 
To the order of Porter also belonged other functions, as is clear 
from the forms used at his consecration : taking the keys from 
the altar and handing them to him, the bishop says : " CONDUCT 


ancient Church this office was one of considerable dignity may 
be inferred from still existing ecclesiastical observances ; for to 
the Porter belonged the office of treasurer of the Church, to 
which was also attached that of guardian of the sacristy ; sta 
tions the duties of which are still numbered amongst the most 
honourable functions of the ecclesiastic. 4 

The second amongst the Minor Orders is that of Reader : to Reader 
him it belongs to read to the people, in a clear and distinct voice, 
the sacred Scriptures, particularly the Nocturnal Psalmody ; 
and on him also devolves the task of instructing the faithful in 
the rudiments of the faith. Hence the bishop, in presence of 
the people, handing him a book which contains what belongs 
to the exercise of this function, says : " RECEIVE (THIS BOOK,) 


1 Aug. serm. 17. ad Fratres in Eremo. 

2 Hier. in cap. 44. Ezek. vid. Rliaban. Maur. lib. de institut cleric. Bed. lib. hist. 
5. Angl. c. 22. 

3 1 Pet. ii. 9. 

4 De Ostiario vid. Trid. sess. 23. de reform, c. 17. Cone. Tolet. c. 6. et citatur. disL 
25. Ostiar. Isid. lib. de Eccl. c. 14. et dist 25. c. perlectis, et apud Baron. AnnaL 
Eccl. an. 34. num. 287. et an. 44, num. 78. et num. 80 

19 2E 


The, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 





The third order is that of Exorcist : to him is given power 
to invoke the name of the Lord over persons possessed by un 
clean spirits. Hence the bishop, when initiating the Exorcist, 
hands him a book containing the exorcisms, and says: " TAKE 

MENS." 3 

The fourth and last amongst the Minor Orders is that of Aco 
lyte : the duty of the Acolyte is to attend and serve those in 
holy orders, Deacons and Sub-deacons, in the ministry of the 
altar. The Acolyte also attends to the lights used at the cele 
bration of the Holy Sacrifice, particularly whilst the Gospel is 
read. At his ordination, therefore, the bishop, having carefully 
admonished him of the nature of the office which he is about to 
assume, places in his hand a light, with these words : " RECEIVE 


He then hands him empty cruits, intended to supply wine and 
water for the sacrifice, saying : " RECEIVE THESE CRUITS, WHICH 

Minor Orders, which do not come under the denomination 
of Holy, and which have hitherto formed the subject-matter of 
our exposition, are, as it were, the vestibule through which we 
ascend to holy orders. Amongst the latter the first is that of 
Sub-deacon : his office, as the name implies, is to serve the 
Deacon in the ministry of the altar : to him it belongs to pre 
pare the altar-linen, the sacred vessels, the bread and wine ne 
cessary for the Holy Sacrifice, to minister water to the Priest 
or Bishop at the washing of the hands at Mass, to read the 
Epistle, a function which was formerly discharged by the Dea 
con, to assist at Mass in the capacity of a witness, and see that 
the Priest be not disturbed by any one during its celebration. 
These functions, which appertain to the ministry of the Sub- 
deacon, may be learned from the solemn ceremonies used at his 
consecration. In the first place, the bishop admonishes him 
that by his ordination he assumes the solemn obligation of per 
petual continence, and proclaims aloud that he alone is eligible 
to this office, who is prepared freely to embrace this law. In 
the next place, when the solemn prayer of the Litanies has been 
recited, the Bishop enumerates and explains the duties and func 
tions of the Sub-deacon. This done, each of the candidates for 

1 Vid. Cypr. epist. 33. et Tertull. de prescript, c. 61. et apud Baron. Annal. Eccl. 
anno. 34. num. 287. et an. 54. 78, 79. an. 153. num. 93. an. 456. num. 20. 

2 De Exorcist, vid. supra cit. auctores et apud Baron. Annal. Eccl. an. 34. num. 
287. an. 44. num. 78. et num. 80. an. 237. num. 89. an. 56. num. 5. et num. 8. 9. 10. 
H. 12. 

3 De Acolytis vid. etiam Cypr. epist. 55. et apud Baron. Annal. Eccl. an. 44 
num. 39. et num. 80. 

On the Sacrament of Orders. 219 

ordination receives from the Bishop a chalice and consecrated 
patena, and from the Archdeacon, cruits filled with wine and 
water, and a basin and towel for washing and drying the hands, 
to remind him that he is to serve the Deacon. These ceremo 
nies the bishop accompanies with this solemn admonition : 

ING IN THE SIGHT OF GOD." Additional prayers are then recited, 
and when, finally, the bishop has clothed the Sub-deacon with 
the sacred vestments, on putting on each of which he makes 
use of appropriate words and ceremonies, he then hands him 
the book of the Epistles, saying : " RECEIVE THE BOOK OF THE 

The second amongst the Holy Orders is that of Deacon : his Deacon, 
ministry is more comprehensive, and has been always deemed 
more holy : to him it belongs constantly to accompany the 
bishop, to attend him when preaching, to assist him and the 
priest also during the celebration of the Holy Mysteries, and at 
the administration of the Sacraments, and to read the Gospel at 
the Sacrifice of the Mass. In the primitive ages of the Church, 
he not unfrequently exhorted the faithful to attend to the divine 
worship, and administered the chalice in those Churches, in 
which the faithful received the Holy Eucharist under both kinds 
In order to administer to the wants of the necessitous, to him 
was also committed the distribution of the goods of the Church. 
To the Deacon also, as the eye of the bishop, it belongs to in 
quire and ascertain who within his diocesC lead lives of piety 
and edification, and who do not ; who attend the Holy Sacri 
fice of the Mass and the instructions of their pastors, and who 
do noti that thus the bishop, made acquainted by him with 
these matters, may be enabled to admonish each offender pri 
vately, or, should he deem it more conducive to their reforma 
tion, to rebuke and correct them publicly. He also calls over 
the names of catechumens, and presents to the bishop those 
who are to be promoted to orders. In the absence of the bishop 
and priest, he is also authorized to expound the Gospel to the 
people, not however from an elevated place, to make it under 
stood that this is not one of his ordinary functions. That the 
greatest care should be taken, that no unworthy person be ad 
vanced to the oifice of Deacon, is evinced by the emphasis with 
which the Apostle, writing to Timothy, dwells on the morals, 
the virtue, the integrity which should mark the lives of those 
who are invested with this sacred character. 3 The rites and 
ceremonies used at his ordination also sufficiently convey the 
same lesson of instruction. The prayers used at the ordination 

1 De Subdiaconis prater auctores supra citatos vide Cypr. epist 24. et epist. 42. 
dist. 17. c. presbyteris, Can. Apost. can. 25. Cone. Carthag. 4. can. 5. Arelat. 2. can. 
2. Aurel. 3. cap. 2. Eliber. can. 33. Leo I. Epist. 82. item apud Baron. Annal. Eccl. 
an 44 num. 79. et 80. an. 253. num. 72. num, 97. an. 239. num. 21. an. 324. num. 128. 
an. 588. num. 48. an. 589. num. 6. an. 1057. num. 32. 2 1 Tim. iii. 8. 



The Priest 
hood, two 


and exter 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

of a Deacon are more numerous and solemn than at that of a 
Sub-deacon : his person is also invested with the sacred stole : 
of his ordination as of that of the first Deacons who were or 
dained by the Apostles, 1 the imposition of hands also forms a 
part ; and, finally, the book of the Gospels is handed to him by 
the bishop with these words : " RECEIVE POWER TO :J:AD THE 

The third and highest degree of all Holy Orders is the Priest 
hood. Persons raised to the Priesthood the Holy Fathers dis 
tinguish by two names : they are called " Presbyters," which in 
Greek signifies elders, and which was given them, not only to 
express the mature years required by the Priesthood, but still 
more, the gravity of their manners, their knowledge and pru 
dence : " Venerable old age is not that of long time, nor counted 
by the number of years ; but the understanding of a man is grey 
hairs :" 3 they are also called " Priests," (Sacerdotes) because 
they are consecrated to God, and to them it belongs to admi 
nister the sacraments and to handle sacred things. 

But as the Priesthood is described in the Sacred Scriptures 
as two-fold, internal and external, a line of distinction must be 
drawn between them, that the pastor may have it in his power 
to explain to the faithful the Priesthood which is here meant. 

The internal Priesthood extends to all the faithful, who have 
been baptized, particularly to the just, who are anointed by the 
Spirit of God, and by the divine grace are made living members 
of the High-priest Christ Jesus. Through faith inflamed by 
charity, they offer spiritual sacrifices to God on the altar of their 
hearts, and in the number of these sacrifices are to be reckoned 
good and virtuous actions, referred to the glory of God. Hence 
we read in the Apocalypse : " Christ hath washed us from 
our sins in his own blood, and had made us a kingdom and 
priests to God and his Father." 4 The doctrine of St. Peter to 
the same effect we find recorded in these words : " Be you 
also as living stones, built up, a spiritual house, a holy priest 
hood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus 
Christ." 5 The Apostle also exhorts us, "to present our bodies 
a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, our reasonable ser 
vice ;" 6 and David had said long before : " A sacrifice to God 
is an afflicted spirit ; a contrite and humble heart, O God ! 
thou wilt not despise." 7 That all these authorities regard the 
internal Priesthood, it requires little discernment to discover. 

The external Priesthood does not extend indiscriminately to 

1 Acts vi. 6. 

2 De Diaconis praeter eitatos supra vid. Clem. Rom. Constit. Apostol. lih. 2. c. 6 
Cypr. de lapsis. Amb. lib. 1. offic. c. 41. Leo 1. serm. de S. Laurent. Clem. Rom. 
epist 1. ad Jacob. Fratrem Domini, Hier. epist. 48. et apud Baron. Annal. Eccl. 
an. 33. num. 41. an. 34. num. 283. an. 285 et 287. an. 34. num. 316. an. 44. num. 78 
et 80. an. 57. num. 31 et num. 195. an. 58. num. 102, an. 112. num. 7. 8. 9. an. 316. 
num. 48. an. 324. num. 325. an 325. num. 152. an. 401. num. 44 et 47. an. 508. num. 
15. an. 741. num. 12 3 Wisd. 4. 8. 

< Apoc. i. 5, 6 si Pet. ii. 5. 6 Rom. xii. 1. 7 Ps. 1. 19. 

On the Sacrament of Orders. 22 

the great body of the faithful ; it is appropriated to a certain 
class of persons, who, being invested with this august charac 
ter, and consecrated to God by the lawful imposition of hands 
and the solemn ceremonies of the Church, are devoted to some 
particular office in the sacred ministry. 

This distinction of Priesthood is observable even in the Old This dis- 
Law. We have already seen that David spoke of the internal ^ n r ^ fl ^ 
Priesthood ; and with regard to the external, the numerous com- the Old 
mands delivered by God to Moses and Aaron in reference to it, Law. 
are too well known to require special mention. Moreover, the 
Almighty appointed the tribe of Levi to the ministry of the tem 
ple, and forbade by an express law that any member of a differ 
ent tribe should assume that function ; and Osias, stricken by 
God with leprosy for having usurped the sacerdotal office, was 
visited with the heaviest chastisement for his arrogant and sacri 
legious intrusion. 1 , As, then, we find this same distinction of We here 
internal and external Priesthood in the New Law, the faithful ^ a e k xt e f r . 
are to be informed that we here speak of the external only, for n al priest 
that alone belongs to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. hood - 

The office of the Priest is then, as the rites used at his con- Its office 
secration declare, to offer sacrifice to God, and to administer the j^ 6 ^ 
Sacraments of the Church: the bishop, and after him the priests rites by 
who may be present, impose hands on the candidate for priest- which it is 
hood ; then placing a stole on his shoulders, he adjusts it in confe j rred - 
form of a cross, to signify that the priest receives strength from if. 
above, to enable him to carry the cross of Jesus Christ, to bear 
the sweet yoke of his divine law, and to enforce this law, not 
by word only, but also by the eloquent example of a holy life. 
He next anoints his hands with sacred oil, reaches him a chalice HI. 
containing wine and a patena with bread, saying : " RECEIVE 


and ceremonies he is constituted an interpreter and mediator 
between God and man, the principal function of the Priesthood. 
Finally, placing his hands on the head of the person to be or- IV. 
dained, the bishop says : " RECEIVE YE THE HOLY GHOST ; 


thus investing him with that divine power of forgiving and re 
taining sins, which was conferred by our Lord on his disciples 
These are the principal and peculiar functions of the Priest 

The Order of Priesthood, although essentially one, has dif- The pneat- 
ferent degrees of dignity and power. The first is confined to ^^ h ^ e 
those who are simply called Priests, and whose functions we has differ- 
have now explained. The second is that of Bishops, who are ent degrees 
placed over their respective Sees, to govern not only the other ^nd wwer 

1 Amb. lib. 4. de sacram. cap. 1. August, lib. 10. de civ. Dei, c. 6 et 10. Leo. 
erm. 3. de Annivers. Pontific. 2 Par. 26. 18, 19. 
ajohniii xx. 22,23 

222 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

ministers of the Church, but also the faithful ; and, with sleep 
less vigilance and unwearied care, to watch over and promote 
their salvation. Hence the Sacred Scriptures frequently call 
them " the pastors of the sheep ;" and their office, and the 
duties which it imposes, are developed by Paul in his sermon 
to the Thessalonians, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. 1 
Peter also has left for the guidance of Bishops a divine rule ; 
and if their lives harmonize with its spirit, they will no doubt 
be esteemed, and will really be, good pastors. 3 But Bishops 
HI. are also called " Pontiffs," a name borrowed from the ancient 
Romans, and used to designate their Chief-priests. The third 
degree is that of Archbishop : he presides over several Bishops, 
and is also called " Metropolitan," because he is placed over 
the Metropolis of the Province. Archbishops, therefore, (al 
though their ordination is the same,) enjoy more ample power, 

IV. and a more exalted station than bishops. Patriarchs hold the 
fourth place, and are, as the name implies, the first and supreme 
Fathers in the Episcopal order. Formerly, besides the Sove 
reign Pontiff, there were but four Patriarchs in the Church : 
their dignity was not the same ; the Patriarch of Constantino 
ple, although last in the order of time, was first in rank an 
honour conceded to him as Bishop of Constantinople, the capi 
tal of the imperial world. Next to the Patriarchate of Con 
stantinople, is that of Alexandria, a see founded by the Evan 
gelist St. Mark by command of the prince of the Apostles. The 
third is the Patriarchate of Antioch, founded by St. Peter, and 
the first seat of the Apostolic See ; the fourth and last, the Pa 
triarchate of Jerusalem, founded by St. James, the brother of 
our Lord. 

V. Superior to all these is the Sovereign Pontiff, whom Cyril, 
Archbishop- of Alexandria, denominated in the Council of 
Ephesus, "the Father and Patriarch of the whole world." 
Sitting in that chair in which Peter the prince of the Apostles 
sat to the close of life, the Catholic Church recognises in 
his person the most exalted degree of dignity, and the full 
amplitude of jurisdiction ; a dignity and a jurisdiction not based 
on synodal, or other human constitutions, but emanating from 
no less an authority than God himself. As the successor of 
St. Peter, and the true and legitimate vicar of Jesus Christ, he, 
therefore, presides over the Universal Church, the Father and 
Governor of all the faithful, of Bishops, also, and of all other 
prelates, be their station, rank, or power what they may. 3 

Instruction From what has been said, the pastor will take occasion to in- 
fulon?hL h " form the faithful what are tne principal offices and functions of 
Sacrament. Ecclesiastical Orders, and their degrees, and, also, who is the 
minister of this Sacrament. 

1 Acts xx. 28. 2 i p e t. v . 2. 

3 De primatu Summi Pontificis vid. Anacl. epist, 3. c. 3. et citatur dist. 22. c. Sa 
crosancta. Greg, lib. 7. epist. 64 et 65. Nicol. Pap. epist. ad Mediolanens. et citat 
dist. 22. c. omnes, vid. item eadem dist. c. Constantin. Cone. Chalced. in ep. ad 

On the Sacrament of Orders. 223 

That to the Bishop belongs exclusively the administration of The minis- 

this Sacrament is matter of certainty, and is easily proved by Jf r of the . 

_, i -i i r Sacrament 

the authority of Scripture, by traditional evidence the most un- of Orders, 

equivocal, by the unanimous attestation of all the Holy Fathers, a Bishop, 
by the decrees of Councils, and by the practice of the Univer 
sal Church. Some Abbots, it is true, were occasionally per 
mitted to confer Minor Orders : all, however, admit that even 
this is the proper office of the Bishop, to whom, and to whom 
alone, it is lawful to confer the other Orders : Sub-deacons, 
Deacons, and Priests are ordained by one Bishop only, but ac 
cording to Apostolic tradition, a tradition which has always 
been preserved in the Church, he himself is consecrated by 
three Bishops. 

We now come to explain the qualifications necessary in the Necessity 
candidate for Orders, particularly for Priesthood. From what of e x renie 
we shall have said on this subject, it will not be difficult to de- promoting 
cide what should also be the qualifications of those who are to to Orders, 
be initiated in other Orders, according to their respective offices 
and comparative dignities. That too much precaution cannot 
be used in promoting to Orders is obvious from this considera 
tion alone : the other Sacraments impart grace for the sanctifi- 
cation and salvation of those who receive them Holy Orders 
for the good of the Church, and therefore for the salvation of all 
her children. Hence it is that Orders are conferred on certain 
appointed days only, days on which, according to the most an 
cient practice of the Church, a solemn fast is observed, to ob 
tain from God by holy and devout prayer, ministers not unwor 
thy of their high calling, qualified to exercise the transcendant 
power with which they are to be invested, with propriety and 
to the edification of his Church. 

In the candidate for priesthood, therefore, integrity of life is Qualifies- 

a first and essential qualification, not only because to procure, t ons ( or 

. ,. ,., /. -i theories*- 

or even to permit his ordination, whilst his conscience is bur- hood. 

dened with the weight of mortal sin, is to aggravate his former I- 
guilt, by an additional crime of the deepest enormity ; but, also, 
because it is his to enlighten the darkness of others by the 
lustre of his virtue, and the bright example of innocence of life. 
The lessons addressed by the Apostle to Titus and to Timo 
thy 1 should, therefore, supply the pastor with matter for instruc 
tion ; nor should he omit to observe, that whilst by the com 
mand of God bodily defects disqualified for the ministry of the 
altar in the Old Law, in the Christian dispensation such exclu 
sion rests principally on the deformities of the mind. The 
candidate for Orders, therefore, in accordance with the holy 
practice of the Catholic Church, will first study diligently to 
purify his conscience from sin in the Sacrament of Penance. 

In the Priest we also look not merely for that portion of n 
knowledge which is necessary to the proper administration of 
the Sacraments : more is expected an intimate acquaintance 

1 Tit. i. and 1 Tim. iii. 


On whom 
Orders are 
not to be 

224 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

with the science of the Sacred Volume should fit him to instruct 
the faithful in the mysteries of religion, and in the precepts of 
the Gospel, to reclaim from sin, and excite to piety and virtue. 
The due consecration and administration of the Sacraments, and 
the instruction of those who are committed to his care in the 
way of salvation, constitute two important duties of the pastor. 
"The lips of the priest," says Malachy, "shall keep know 
ledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth ; because he is 
the angel of the Lord of Hosts." 1 To a due consecration and 
administration of the Sacraments, a moderate share of know 
ledge suffices ; but to instruct the faithful in all the truths and 
duties of religion, demands considerable ability, and extensive 
knowledge. In all priests, however, recondite learning is not 
demanded : it is sufficient that each possess competent know 
ledge to discharge the duties of his own particular office in the 

The Sacrament of Orders is not to be conferred on very 
young, or on insane persons, because they do not enjoy the use 
of reason : if administered, however, it no doubt impresses a 
character. The age required for the reception of the different 
Orders may be easily known by consulting the decrees of the 
Council of Trent. Persons obligated to render certain stipu 
lated services to others, and therefore not at their own disposal, 
are inadmissible to Orders; persons accustomed to shed blood, 
and homicides, are also excluded from the ecclesiastical state by 
an ecclesiastical law, and are irregular. The same law ex 
cludes those whose admission into the ministry may and must 
bring contempt on religion ; and hence illegitimate children, 
and all who are born out of lawful wedlock, are disqualified for 
the sacred ministry. Finally, persons who are maimed, or who 
labour under any remarkable personal deformity, are also ex 
cluded ; such defects offend the eye, and frequently incapacitate 
for the discharge of the duties of the ministry. 

Having explained these matters, it remains that the pastor 
unfold the effects of this Sacrament. It is clear, as we have 
already said, that the Sacrament of Orders, although primarily 
instituted for the advantage and edification of the Church, im 
parts grace to him who receives it with the proper dispositions, 
which qualifies and enables him to discharge with fidelity the 
duties which it imposes, and amongst which is to be numbered 
the administration of the Sacraments. As baptism qualifies for 
their reception, so Orders qualify for their administration. Or 
ders also confer another grace, which is a special power in re 
ference to the Holy Eucharist ; a power full and perfect in the 
priest, who alone can consecrate the body and blood of our 
Lord, but in the subordinate ministers, greater or less in propor 
tion to their approximation to the sacred mysteries of the altar. 
III. This power is also denominated a spiritual character, which, by 
a certain interior mark impressed on the soul, distinguishes the 

Effects of 
the Sacra 
ment of 


1 Malach. ii. 7. 

On the Sacrament of Matrimony. 22o 

ecclesiastic from the rest of the faithful, and devotes them spe 
cially to the divine service. This the Apostle seems to have 
had in view, when he thus addressed Timothy : " Neglect not 
the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, 
with the imposition of the hands of the priesthood ;"* and 
again, " I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God, 
which is in thee by the imposition of my hands." 3 

On the Sacrament of Orders let thus much suffice. Our 
purpose has been to lay before the pastor the most important 
particulars upon the subject, in order to supply him with matter 
upon which he may draw for the instruction of the faithful, and 
their advancement in Christian piety. 


As it is the duty of the pastor to propose to himself the holi- A life of 
ness and perfection of the faithful, his earnest desires must be in continence 
full accordance with those of the Apostle, when, writing to the 8 i re dbyall. 
Corinthians, he says : " I would that all men were even as my 
self ;" 3 that is, that all embraced the virtue of continence. If 
there be any one blessing superior to every other, it surely falls 
to the lot of him who, unlettered by the distracting cares of the 
world, the turbulence of passion tranquillized, the unruly de 
sires of the flesh extinguished, reposes in the practice of piety 
and the contemplation of heavenly things. But as, according The sane- 
to the same Apostle, " every one hath his proper gift from God, M y of mat 
one after this manner, and another after that," 4 and marriage is 
gifted with many divine blessings, holding, as it does, a place 
amongst the Sacraments of the Church, and honoured, as it 
was, by the presence of our Lord himself, 5 it becomes the ob 
vious duty of the pastor to expound its doctrine ; particularly 
when we find that St. Paul, and the prince of the Apostles, 
have, in many places, minutely described to us not only the 
dignity but also the duties of the married state. Filled with the 
Spirit of God," they well understood the numerous and import 
ant advantages which must flow to Christian society from a 
knowledge of the sanctity and an inviolable observance of the 
obligations of marriage ; whilst they saw that from an igno 
rance of the former, and a disregard of the latter, marriage 
must prove the fertile source of the greatest evils, and the hea 
viest calamities to the Church of God. 

The nature and import of marriage are, therefore, to be first Nature 

explained ; for as vice not unfrequently assumes the semblance a " d mjxm 
i i i t- i f i i -i ofmamaee 

of virtue, care must be taken that the faithful be not deceived to b e fj re V 


1 Tim. iv. 14. 2 2 Tim. i. 6. 3 1 Cor. vii. 7. 

< 1 Cor. vii. 7 * John ii. 2. 



Meaning of 
the word 
" matri 



of matri 
mony, ex 

In what 



The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

by a false appearance of marriage, and thus stain their souls with 
the turpitude and defilement of wicked lusts. To give them com 
petent and correct information on this important subject, we 
shall begin with the meaning of the word " Matrimony." It 
is called " Matrimony," because the principal object which a 
female should propose to herself in marriage is to become a 
mother ; (matrem) or because to a mother it belongs to conceive, 
bring forth, and train up her offspring. It is also called " wed 
lock," (conjugium) from the conjugal union of man and wife ; 
(a conjugendo) because a lawful wife is united to her husband, 
as it were, by a common yoke. It is called " marriage," (nup- 
tiae) because, as St. Ambrose observes, the bride veiled her face 
(se obnuberent) through modesty, a reverential observance 
which would also seem to imply that she was to be subject to 
her husband. 1 

Matrimony, in the general opinion of divines, is defined " The 
conjugal and legitimate union of man and woman, which is to 
last during life." In order that the different parts of this defi 
nition may be better understood, the pastor will teach that, al 
though a perfect marriage has all these conditions, viz. internal 
consent, external assent expressed by words, the obligation 
and tie which arise from the contract, and the marriage debt by 
which it is consummated ; yet the obligation and tie expressed by 
the word " union," alone have the force and nature of marriage. 
The peculiar character of this union is marked by the word 
"conjugal," distinguishing it from other contracts by which 
persons unite to promote their common interests, engage to 
render some service for a stipulated time, or enter into an agree 
ment for some other purpose, contracts all of which differ 
essentially from this " conjugal union." Next follows the word 
" legitimate ;" for persons excluded by law cannot contract 
marriage, and if they do their marriage is invalid. Persons, 
for instance, within the fourth degree of kindred, a boy before 
his fourteenth year, and a female before her twelfth, the ages 
established by the laws, 8 cannot contract marriage. The words 
"which is to last during life," express the indissolubility of the 
tie, which binds husband and wife. 

Hence, it is evident, that in that tie consists marriage. Some 
eminent divines, it is true, say that it consists in .the consent, 
as when they define it : " The consent of the man and woman ;" 
but we are to understand them to mean that the consent is the 
efficient cause of marriage, which is the doctrine of the Fathers 
of the Council of Florence ; because, without the consent and 
contract, the obligation and tie cannot possibly exist. But it is 
of absolute necessity that the consent be expressed in words 
which designate the present time. Marriage is not a simple 

1 De his nomin. vid. Aug. lib. 19. contr. Faust, c. 26. Ambr. lib. 1. de Abraham 
c. 9. in fine, item vid. 30. q. 5. c. foemina, et 33. q. 5. c. Mulier. Isidor. lib. de Eccl 
officiis c. 19. 

2 Such laws, the reader will perceiv?, are of a local nature, and vary in different 
countries. T. 

On the Sacrament of Matrimony. 227 

donation, but a mutual contract ; and therefore the consent of 
one of the parties is insufficient, that of both necessary to its va 
lidity ; and to declare this consent, words are obviously the 
medium to be employed. If the internal consent alone, with 
out any external indication, were sufficient, it would then seem 
to follow as a necessary consequence, that were two persons, 
living in the most separate and distant countries, to consent to 
marry, they should contract a true and indissoluble marriage, 
even before they had mutually signified to each other their con 
sent by letter or messenger ; a consequence as repugnant to 
reason as it is opposed to the decrees and established usage 
of the Church. 

It has been wisely provided that the consent of the parties The con- 
to the marriage contract be expressed in words which have re- sent of the 
ference to the present time. Words which signify a future ^ express- 
time promise, but do not actually unite in marriage: it is evi- ed in words 
dent that what is to be done has no present existence : what n | c h 
does not exist can have little or no firmness or stability : a pro- enceto the 
raise of marriage, therefore, does not give a title to the rights present 
of marriage. Such promises are, it is true, obligatory ; and time- 
their violation involves the offending party in a breach of faith : 
but although entered into they have not been actually fulfilled, 
and cannot therefore constitute marriage. But he who has once 
entered into the matrimonial alliance, regret it as he afterwards 
may, cannot possibly change, or invalidate, or undo the com 
pact. As then the marriage contract is not a mere promise, but 
a transfer of right, by which the man yields the dominion of his 
person to the woman, the woman the dominion of her person 
to the man, it must therefore be made in words which desig 
nate the present time, the force of which word? abides with un- 
diminished efficacy from the moment of their utterance, and 
binds the husband and wife by a tie which can never be dis 
solved, but by death of one of the parties. 

Instead of words, however, it may be sufficient for the va- A nod or 
lidity of the marriage contract to substitute a nod or other une- olher une 
quivocal sign of tacit consent : even silence, when the result j^n^ay 
of female modesty, may be sufficient, provided the parents an- be suffi- 
swer for their daughter. Hence the pastor will teach the faith- cient - 
ful that the nature and force of marriage consists in the tie and 
obligation ; and that, without consummation, the consent of the Consum- 
parties, expressed in the manner already explained, is sufficient mation not 
to constitute a true marriage. It is certain that our first parents necessar y- 
before their fall, when, according to the Holy Fathers, no 
consummation took place, were really united in marriage. 1 
The holy Fathers, therefore, say that marriage consists not in 
its consummation, but in the consent of the contracting parties ; 
a doctrine repeated by St. Ambrose in his book on virginity. 3 

Having explained these matters, the pastor will proceed to Marriage 
teach that matrimony is to be considered in two points of view, tw -fold, 

Gen. ii. 22. 2 De iristit. virgin, cap. 6. 


and sacra 

by God. 


not obliga 
tory on all. 

why insti 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

either as a natural union, (marriage was invented not by man but 
by nature) or as a sacrament, the efficacy of which transcends 
the order of nature ; and as grace perfects nature, (" That was 
not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural ; after 
wards that which is spiritual,") 1 the order of our matter requires 
that we first treat of matrimony as a natural contract, and next 
as a sacrament. 

The faithful, therefore, are to be taught, in the first place, 
that marriage was instituted by God. We read in Genesis, 
that " God created them male and female, and blessed them 
saying : Increase and multiply : " and also : "It is not good 
for a man to be alone : let us make him a help like unto him 
self. Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam ; and 
when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up 
flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took 
from Adam into a woman, and brought her to Adam ; and 
Adam said : this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my 
flesh : she shall be called woman, because she was taken out 
of man : wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and 
shall cleave to his wife ; and they shall be two in one flesh. " a 
These words, according to the authority of our Lord himself as 
we read in St. Matthew, establish the divine institution of Ma 
trimony. 3 

Not only did God institute marriage; he also, as the Coun 
cil of Trent declares, rendered it perpetual and indissoluble :* 
"what God hath joined together," says our Lord, "let not man 
separate." 5 As a natural contract, it accords with the duties of 
marriage that it be indissoluble ; yet its indissolubility arises 
principally from its nature as a sacrament ; and this it is that, 
in all its natural relations, elevates it to the highest perfection. 
Its dissolubility, however, is at once opposed to the proper 
education of children, and to the other important ends of mar 

But the words "increase and multiply," which were uttered 
by Almighty God, do not impose on every individual an obliga 
tion to marry : they declare the object of the institution of mar 
riage ; and now that the human face is widely diffused, not only 
is there no law rendering marriage obligatory, but, on the con 
trary, virginity is highly exalted and strongly recommended in 
Scripture as superior to marriage, as a state of greater perfection 
and holiness. On this subject the doctrine taught by our Lord 
himself is contained in these words : " He that can take it, let 
him take it ;" 8 and the Apostle says : " Concerning virgins 
I have no commandment from the Lord; but I give counsel as 
having obtained mercy from the Lord to be faithful." 7 

But why marriage was instituted is a subject which demands 
exposition The first reason of its institution is because nature 
instinctively tends to such a union ; and under the vicissitudes 

i 1 Cor. xv 46. 
3 Matt. xix. 6. 
Matt xix. 12. 

J (Jen. i. 27, 28. Gen ii. 18. 21, 22, 23, 24. 
4 Sess. 24. init. 6 Matt. xk. 6. 

1 Cor. vii. 25. 

On the Sacrament of Matrimony. 229 

of life and the infirmities of old age, this union is a source of 
mutual assistance and support. Another is the desire of family, II. 
not so much, however, with a view to leave after us heirs to 
inherit our property and fortune, as to bring up children in the 
true faith and in the service of God. That such was the prin 
cipal object of the Holy Patriarchs when they engaged in the mar 
ried state, we learn from the Sacred Volumes ; and hence the 
angel, when informing Tobias of the means of repelling the vio 
lent assaults of the evil demon, says : " I will show thee who 
they are over whom the devil can prevail ; for they who in 
such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from them 
selves and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, 
as the horse and mules which have not understanding, over 
them the devil hath power." He then adds : " thou shalt 
take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love 
of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou 
mayest obtain a blessing in children." 1 This was also amongst Note, 
the reasons why God instituted marriage from the beginning ; 
and therefore married persons who, to prevent conception or 
procure abortion, have recourse to medicine, are guilty of a 
most heinous crime nothing less than premeditated murder. 
The third reason is one which is to be numbered amongst the III. 
consequences of primeval transgressions : stript of original in 
nocence, human appetite began to rise in rebellion against right 
treason ; and man, conscious of his own frailty, and unwilling 
to fight the battles of the flesh, is supplied by marriage with an 
antidote against the licentiousness of corrupt desire. " For 
fear of fornication," says the Apostle, " let every man have his 
own wife, and let every woman have her own husband ;" and 
a little after, having recommended to married persons a tempo 
rary abstinence from the marriage debt, " to give themselves to 
prayer," he adds : " Return together again, lest Satan tempt 
you for your incontinency." 3 

These are ends, some one of which, those who desire to con- Note 
tract marriage piously and religiously, as becomes the children 
of the Saints, should propose to themselves. If to these we 
add other concurring causes which induce to contract marriage, 
such as the desire of leaving an heir, wealth, beauty, illustrious 
descent, congeniality of disposition, such motives, because not 
inconsistent with the holiness of marriage, are not to be con 
demned : we do not find that the Sacred Scriptures condemn 
the patriarch Jacob for having chosen Rachel for her beauty, in 
preference to Lia. 3 

These are the instructions which the pastor will communi- Matrimony 

cate to the faithful on the subject of marriage, as a natural con- ^ a Sacra> 

, , -11 i j * merit, su- 

tract : as a sacrament he will show that marriage is raised to a perior to 

superior order, and referred to a more exalted end. The ori- the natural 
giual institution of marriage, as a natural contract, had for object contract - 
the propagation of the human race : its subsequent elevation to 

i Tob. vi. 16, 17, 18. 22. 2 i Cor. vii. 2. Gen. xxix. 


230 T/ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

the dignity of a sacrament is intended for the procreation and 
education of a people in the religion and worship of the true 
Erempli- God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ. When the Redeemer 
rion of wou ld exemplify the close union that subsists between him and 
Christ and his Church, and his boundless love towards us, he declares this 
his Church, divine mystery principally by alluding to the holy union of 
man and wife ; and the aptitude of the illustration is evinced by 
this, that of all human relations no one is so binding as that of 
marriage, and those who stand in that relation are united in the 
closest bonds of affection and love. Hence the Sacred Scrip 
tures, by assimilating it to marriage, frequently place before us 
this divine union of Christ with his Church. 

Marriage a That marriage is a sacrament has been at all times held by 
Sacrament fa e church as a certain and well ascertained truth ; and in this 
she is supported by the authority of the Apostle in his Epistle 
to the Ephesians : " Husbands," says he, " should love their 
wives, as their own bodies : he who loveth his wife, loveth 
himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth 
and cherisheth it, even as Christ doth the Church, for we are 
members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this 
cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave 
to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great 
sacrament, but I speak in Christ, and in the Church." 1 When 
the Apostle says : " This is a great sacrament," he means, no 
doubt, to designate marriage; 3 as if he had said: The conjuga 
union between man and wife, of which God is the author, is a 
sacrament, that is, a sacred sign of the holy union that subsists 
between Christ and his Church. That this is the true meaning 
of his words is shown by the Holy Fathers who have inter 
preted the passage ; and the Council of Trent has given to it 
the same interpretation. 3 The husband therefore is evidently 
compared by the Apostle to Christ, the wife to the Church ;* 
"the man is head of the woman, as Christ is of the Church;" 3 
and hence the husband should love his wife, and again, the wife 
should love and respect her husband, for " Christ loved his 
Church, and gave himself for her;" and the Church, as the 
same Apostle teaches, is subject to Christ. 

It signifies That this sacrament signifies and confers grace, and in this 
*nd confers t ^e nature of a sacrament principally consists, we learn from 
these words of the Council of Trent: " The grace which per 
fects that natural love, and confirms that indissoluble union, 
Christ himself, the author and finisher of the sacraments, has 
merited for us by his passion." 8 The faithful are, therefore, 
to be taught, that, united in the bonds of mutual love, the hus 
band and wife are enabled, by the grace of this sacrament, to 
repose in each other s affections ; to reject every criminal attach 
ment ; to repel every inclination to unlawful intercourse ; and 

1 Eph. v. 28. 

2 Tertull. lib. de Monog. Aug. de fide et oper. c. 7. lib. de nupt. et concup. c. 
10. et 12. s g ess . 34. 4 Ambr. in epist. ad Ephes. 

a Eph. v. 23. 6 Sess. 24. de matrim. 

On the Sacrament of Matrimony. 231 

in every thing to preserve " marriage honourable, and the bed 
undefiled." 1 

The great superiority of the sacrament of matrimony to those Itssupe- 
marriages which took place before or after the Law, we may noniyto 
learn from the following considerations The Gentiles, it is a nd Jewish 
true, looked upon marriage as something sacred, and therefore marriage 
considered promiscuous intercourse to be inconsistent with the 
law of nature : they also held that fornication, adultery, and 
other licentious excesses should be repressed by legal sanctions ; 
but their marriages had nothing whatever of the nature of a sa 
crament. Amongst the Jews the laws of marriage were observed 
with more religious fidelity, and their marriages, no doubt, were 
more holy. Having received the promise that in the seed of 
Abraham all nations should be blessed, 2 it was justly deemed a 
matter of great piety amongst them to beget children, the off 
spring of a chosen people, from whom, as to his human nature, 
Christ our Lord and Saviour was to descend ; but their marriage 
also wanted the true nature of a Sacrament. Of this it is a fur 
ther confirmation, that whether we consider the law of nature 
after the fall of Adam, or the law given to Moses, we at once 
perceive that marriage had fallen from its primitive excellence 
and sanctity. Under the Law of Moses we find that many of 
the Patriarchs had several wives at the same time, and, should 
a cause exist, it was subsequently permitted to dismiss one s 
wife, having given her a bill of divorce ; 3 both of which abuses 
have been removed by the Gospel dispensation, and marriage 
restored to its primitive state. 

That polygamy is opposed to the nature of marriage is shown Polygamy 
by our Lord in these words : " For this cause a man shall opposed to 
leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they two on*^ 
shall be in one flesh. Therefore," continues the Redeemer, riage. 
" now they are not two but one flesh." 4 The Patriarchs, who, 
by the permission of God, had a plurality of wives, are not on 
that account to be condemned : the words of the Redeemer, 
however, clearly show that marriage was instituted by God as 
the union of two only ; and this he again expressly declares 
when he says : " Whoever shall dismiss his wife, and shall 
marry another, doth commit adultery, and he that shall marry 
her that is dismissed, committeth adultery." 5 If a plurality of 
wives be lawful, we can discover no more reason why he who 
marries a second wife whilst he retains the first should be said 
to be guilty of adultery, than he who, having dismissed the first, 
takes to himself a second. Hence, if an infidel, in accordance 
with the laws and customs of his country, has married several 
wives, the Church commands him, when converted to the faith, 
to look upon the first alone as his lawful wife, and to separate 
from the others 

That marriage cannot be dissolved by divorce is easily proved Marriage 
from the same testimony of our Lord : if by a bill of divorce indissolu 

Heb. xiii. 4. 2 Gen. xxii. 18, 3 ])eut. xxiv. 1. Matt. xix. 7. 

* Matt. xix. 9. * Matt. xix. 9. 


quences of 
its iridisso- 




Three ad 
from mar 

Tlie, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

the matrimonial link were dissolved, the wife might lawfully, 
and without the guilt of adultery, take another husband ; yet 
our Lord expressly declares, that " whoever shall dismiss his 
wife, and marry another, committeth adultery." 1 The bond of 
marriage, therefore, can be dissolved by death alone, and this 
the Apostle confirms when he says : " A woman is bound by 
the law, as long as her husband liveth ; but if her husband die, 
she is at liberty : let her marry whom she will, only in the Lord." 
and again : " To them that are married, not I, but the Lord 
commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband, and if 
she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her 
husband." 8 Thus to her who has separated from her husband, 
even for a just cause, the only alternative left by the Apostle is 
to remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband : the 
Church, unless influenced by very weighty causes, does not 
sanction the separation of husband and wife. 

That this the law of marriage may not appear too rigorous, its 
beneficial consequences are to be presented to the consideration 
of the faithful. In the first place, they should know that the 
choice of a companion for life should be influenced by virtue 
and congeniality of disposition, rather than by wealth or beauty ; 
a consideration which confessedly is of the highest practical im 
portance to the interests of society. Besides, if marriage were 
dissoluble by divorce, married persons could scarcely ever 
want causes of dissension, which the inveterate enemy of peace 
and virtue would never fail to supply ; whereas, when the faith 
ful reflect that, although separated as to bed and board, they are 
still bound by the tie of marriage, and that all hope of a second 
marriage is cut off, they are more slow to anger and more averse 
to dissension ; and if sometimes separated, feeling the many in- 
conveniencies that attend their separation, their reconciliation is 
easily accomplished through the intervention of friends. Here, 
the salutary admonition of St. Augustine is also not to be omit 
ted by the pastor: to convince the faithful that they should not 
deem it a hardship to be reconciled to their penitent wives, 
whom they may have put away for adultery. " Why," says 
he, " should not the Christian husband receive his wife, whom 
the Church receives ? Why should not the wife pardon her 
adulterous but penitent husband, whom Christ has pardoned ? 
When the Scriptures call him who keeps an adultress a fool, 3 
it means an adultress who after her delinquency refuses to 
repent, and perseveres in the career of turpitude which she 
had commenced." 4 In perfection and dignity, it is clear there 
fore, from what has been said, that marriage amongst the Jews 
and Gentiles is far inferior to Christian marriage. 

The faithful are also to be informed that there are three ad 
vantages which arise from marriage, offspring, faith, and the 
sacrament ; advantages which alleviate those evils which the 

Matt xix. 8. Luke xiv. 18. 
4 Lib. de adult, conjug. c. 6. et 9. 

2 1 Cor. vii. 39. 

1 Prov. rviii. 21 

On the Sacrament of Matrimony. 233 

Apostle points out when he says : " Such shall have tribulation 
of the flesh ;"* and which render that intercourse, which with 
out marriage should be deservedly reprobated, an honourable 
union. 3 The first advantage, then, is that of legitimate oflf- * 
spring ; an advantage so highly appreciated by the Apostle, 
that he says : " The woman shall be saved through child-bear 
ing." 3 These words of the Apostle are not, however, to be 
understood to refer solely to the procreation of children : they 
also refer to the discipline and education by which children are 
reared to piety; for the Apostle immediately adds : " If she 
continue in faith." " Hast thou children," says Ecclesias- 
ticus, " instruct them and bow down their neck from their 
childhood :"* the same important lesson is inculcated by the 
Apostle ; and of such an education the Scripture affords the 
most beautiful illustrations in the persons of Tobias, Job, and 
of other characters eminent for sanctity. But the further deve- Note, 
lopment of the duties of parents and children we reserve for 
the exposition of the Fourth Commandment. 

The next advantage is faith, not the habitual faith infused in II 
baptism, but the fidelity which the husband plights to the wife 
and the wife to the husband, to deliver to each other the mutual 
dominion of their persons, and to preserve inviolate the sacred 
engagements of marriage. This is an obvious inference from 
the words of Adam on receiving his consort Eve, which, as the 
Gospel informs us, the Redeemer has sanctioned by his appro 
bation : "Wherefore," says our protoparent, "a man shall 
leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife ; and they 
shall be two in one flesh." 5 Nor are the words of the Apostle 
less explicit : " The wife," says he, " hath not power of her 
own body; but the husband." 8 Hence against adultery, be 
cause it violates this conjugal faith, the Almighty justly decreed 
in the Old Law the heaviest chastisements. 7 This matrimonial 
faith also demands, on the part of husband and wife, a singular, 
holy, and pure love, a love not such as that of adulterers, but 
such as that which Christ cherishes towards his Church. This 
is the model of conjugal love proposed by the Apostle when 
he says : " Men, love your wives, as Christ also loved the 
Church." 8 The love of Christ for his church was great, not 
an interested love, but a love which proposed to itself the sole 
happiness of his spouse. 

The third advantage is called the sacrament, that is the indis- UL 
soluble tie of marriage : " The Lord," says the Apostle, " hath 
commanded that the wife depart not from her husband, and if 
she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her 
husband ; and that the husband dismiss not his wife." 9 If, as 
a sacrament, marriage is significant of the union of Christ with 
his Church, it follows that as Christ never separates himself 

1 1 Cor. yii. 28. 2 Vid. Aug. lib. 5. contr. Tul. cap. 5. 3 1 Tim. ii. 15. 

4 Eccl. vii. 25. 5 Gen. ii. 24. Matt. xix. 5. 6 i Cor. vii. 4. 

i Num. v. 12. s Ephes. v. 25. 91 Cor vii 10 
20* 2 G 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Duties of a 



from his Church, so a wife, as far as regards the tie of marriage, 
can never be separated from her husband. 

The more easily to preserve the happiness of this holy union 
undisturbed by domestic broils, the pastor will instruct the faith 
ful in the duties of husband and wife, as inculcated by St. 
Paul and by the prince of the Apostles. 1 It is then the duty 
of the husband to treat his wife liberally and honourably : 
it should not be forgotten that Eve was called by Adam " his 
companion :" " The woman," says he, " whom thou gavest 
me as a companion." Hence it was, according to the opinion 
of some of the Holy Fathers, that she was formed not from the 
feet but from the side of man ; as, on the other hand, she 
was not formed from his head, in order to give her to under 
stand that it was not hers to command but to obey her husband. 
The husband should also be constantly occupied in some honest 
pursuit, with a view as well to provide necessaries for his fa 
mily, as to avoid the languor of idleness, the root of almost 
every vice. He is also to keep all his family in order, to correct 
their morals, fix their respective employments, and see that they 
Duties of a discharge them with fidelity. On the other hand, the duties of 
a wife are thus summed up by the prince of the Apostles : " Let 
wives be subject to their husbands ; that if any believe not the 
word, they may be won without the word, by the conversation 
of the wives ; considering your chaste conversation with fear : 
whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, 
or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel, but the 
hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and 
meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God. For after this 
manner, heretofore, the holy women also, who trusted in God, 
adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands, 
as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord." 3 To train up 
their children in the practice of virtue, and to pay particular at 
tention to their domestic concerns, should also be especial ob 
jects of their attention and study. Unless compelled by neces 
sity to go abroad, they should also cheerfully remain at home ; 
and should never leave home without the permission of their 
husbands. Again, and in this the conjugal union chiefly con 
sists, let them never forget that, next to God, they are to love 
their husbands, to esteem them above all others, yielding to 
them, in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a will 
ing and obsequious obedience. 

Having explained these matters, the pastor will next proceed 
to instruct his people in the rites to be observed in the admini 
stration of marriage. Here, however, it is not to be supposed 
that we give in detail the laws that regulate marriage : these 
have been accurately fixed, and are detailed at large in the de 
cree of the Council of Trent on marriage, a decree with which 
the pastor cannot be unacquainted. Here, therefore, it will suf- 




Rites ob 
served ir 
the admi 
of mar 

1 Vid. Aug. lib. 1. de adult conjug. c. 21 et 22. et de bono conjug. car. 7. et con- 
cupis. lib. 1. c. 10. 2 1 pet. iii. 1, 2. 

On the Sacrament of Matrimony. 235 

fice to admonish him to study to make himself acquainted, 
from the doctrine of the Council, with what regards this sub 
ject, and to make it a matter of assiduous exposition to the 
faithful. 1 
But above all, lest young persons, and youth is a period of Youth to be 

life marked by extreme weakness and indiscretion, deceived bv ""Jmonish- 
* . ,. , c . , . " ed on the 

the specious but misapplied name 01 marriage, may rush into subject of 

hasty engagements, the result of criminal passion ; the pastor marriage, 
cannot too frequently remind them that, without the presence 
of the parish-priest, or of some other priest commissioned by 
him or by the ordinary, and that of two or three witnesses, 
there can be no marriage. 

The impediments of marriage are also to be explained, a The impe- 
subject so minutely and accurately treated by many writers on din >ents of 
morality, of grave authority and profound erudition, as to ren- ra 
der it an easy task to the pastor to draw upon their labours, 
particularly as he has occasion to have such works continually 
in his hands. The instructions, therefore, which they contain, 
and also the decrees of the Council with regard to the impedi 
ments arising from "spiritual affinity," from "the justice of 
public honesty," and from " fornication," the pastor will 
peruse with attention and expound with care and accuracy. 

The faithful may hence learn the dispositions with which they The dispo- 
should approach the sacrament of marriage : they should con- si V on L v>1 ? 1 
sider themselves as about to engage, not in a human work, but sacrament 
in a divine ordinance ; and the example of the Fathers of the of marriage 
Old Law, by whom marriage, although not raised to the dignity ^ ^ 
of a sacrament, was deemed a most holy and religious rite, 
evinces the singular purity of soul and sentiments of piety, 
with which Christians should approach so holy a sacrament. 

But, amongst many other matters there is one which demands ciandes- 
the zealous exhortation of the pastor, it is, that children pay it as & n e mar- 
a tribute of respect due to their parents, or to those under whose nage- 
guardianship and authority they are placed, not to engage in 
marriage without their knowledge, still less in defiance of their 
express wishes. In the Old Law children were uniformly 
given in marriage by their parents ; and that the will of the 
parent is always to have very great influence on the choice of 
the child, is clear from these words of the Apostle : " He that 
giveth his virgin in marriage doth well ; and he that giveth her 
not, doth better." 3 

Finally, with regard to the use of marriage, this is a subject Twoles- 
which the pastor will approach with becoming delicacy, avoid- sons f in 



ing the use of any expression that may be unfit to meet the w hi c h__ 
ears of the faithful, that may be calculated to offend the piety gard the 
of some, or excite the laughter of others. "The words of the u . seof mar> 
Lord are chaste words ;" 8 and the teachers of a Christian nage 
people should make use of no language that is not characterized 
by gravity, and that does not breathe purity of soul. Two les- 

1 Sess. 24. decret de reformat, matrimon. 2 1 Cor. vii. 38. s Pa. xi. 7. 

236 TJie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

sons of instruction are, then, to be specially pressed upon the 
I. attention of the faithful : the first, that marriage is not to be 
sought from motives of sensuality, but that its use is to be re 
strained within those limits, which, as we have already shown, 
are fixed by God. They should be mindful of the exhortation 
of the Apostle : " They," says he, " that have wives, let them 
be as though they had them not." 1 The words of St. Jerome 
are also worthy of attention : " the love," says he, " which a 
wise man cherishes towards his wife, is the result of judgment, 
not the impulse of passion : he governs the impetuosity of de 
sire, and is not hurried into indulgence. What greater turpi 
tude than that a husband should love his wife, as the seducer 
IL loves the adulteress." 9 But as every blessing is to be obtained 
from God by holy prayer, the faithful are also to be taught 
sometimes to abstain from the marriage debt, in order to devote 
themselves to prayer. This religion continence, according to 
the proper and pious injunction of our predecessors in the faith, 
is particularly to be observed for at least three days previous to 
communion, and for a longer time during the solemn and peni 
tential season of Lent. Thus will the faithful experience the 
blessings of the holy state of marriage by a constantly increasing 
accumulation of divine grace ; and living in the pursuit and 
practice of piety, they will not only spend this mortal life in 
peace and tranquillity, but will also repose in the true and firm 
hope, " which confoundeth not," 3 of arriving one day, through 
the divine goodness, at the fruition of that life which is eternal. 4 

1 Cor. vii. 29. 2 S. Hier. lib. 1. contra. lovian. in fine. 3 Rom. v. 5. 

Vid. 33. q. 4. per totan et de consecr. dist. 2. cap. omnis homo. Hier. in apol. 
pro lihris contra lovian. post medium inter epist. num. 50. et in c. 12. Zach. super, 
iliud : " In die planctus magnus erit fructus thori immaculati." 







THAT the Decalogue is an epitome of the entire law of God The Deca 
is the recorded opinion of St. Augustine. 1 The Lord, it is true, lgue an 
had uttered many things for the instruction and guidance of his fheentire 
people ; yet two tables only were given to Moses. They were lawofGod 
made of stone, and were called " the tables of the testimony," 
and were to be deposited in the ark ; and on them, if minutely 
examined and well understood, will be found to hinge whatever 
else is commanded by God. Again, these ten commandments 
are reducible to two, the love of God and of our neighbour, on 
which " depend the whole Law and the Prophets." 3 

Imbodying then, as the Decalogue does, the whole Law, it TO be care- 
is the imperative duty of the pastor to give his days and nights fully stu- 
to its consideration ; and to this he should be prompted by a 
desire not only to regulate his own life by its precepts, but also 
to instruct in the law of God the people committed to his care. tor - 
"The lips of the priest," says Malachy, "shall keep know 
ledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth, because he is 
the angel of the Lord of Hosts." 8 To the priests of the New 
Law this injunction applies in a special manner; they are 
nearer to God, and should be " transformed from glory to glory 
as by the Spirit of the Lord." 4 Christ our Lord has said that 
they are " the light of the world :" s they should, therefore, be 
" a light to them that are in darkness, the instructors of the 
foolish, the teachers of infants ;" 8 and " if a man be over 
taken in any fault, those who are spiritual should instruct such 
a one." 7 In the tribunal of penance the priest holds the place 
of a judge, and pronounces sentence according to the nature of 
the offence. Unless, therefore, he is desirous that his ignorance 

1 Qtisestio 140. super Exod. 2 Matt. ixii. 40. *Mal. ii. 7. <2Cor. ui 18 
Matt. v. 14. Rom. ii. 19, 20. T Gal. vi. 1 


238 Tlie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

should prove an injury to himself, and an injustice to others, he 
must bring with him to the discharge of this duty, the greatest 
vigilance, and the most intimate and practised acquaintance 
with the interpretation of the Law, in order to he able to pro 
nounce according to this divine rule on every omission and 
commission ; and that, as the Apostle says, he teach sound 
doctrine, 1 doctrine free from error, and heal the diseases of the 
soul, which are the sins of the people, that they may be "ac 
ceptable to God, pursuers of good works." 3 

Motivesfor ^ n * ne discharge of this duty of instruction, the pastor will 
its observ- propose to himself and to others such considerations, as may 
ftnce - be best calculated to impress upon the mind the conviction, that 
obedience to the law of God is the duty of every man ; and if 
in the Law there are many motives to stimulate to its ob 
servance, there is one which of all others is powerfully im 
pressive it is, that God is its author. True, it is said to have 
been delivered by angels, 3 but its author, we repeat, is God. 
Thus, not only the words of the Legislator himself, which we 
shall subsequently explain, but also, innumerable other pas 
sages of Scripture, which the memory of the pastor will readily 
supply, bear ample testimony. Who is not conscious that a 
law is inscribed on his heart by the finger of God, teaching 
him to distinguish good from evil, vice from virtue, justice from 
injustice ? The force and import of this unwritten law do 
not conflict with that which is written. How unreasonable 
then to deny that God is the author of the written, as he is of 
the unwritten law. 

The writ- But, lest the people, aware of the abrogation of the Mosaic 
ten law, Law, may imagine that the precepts of the Decalogue are no 
why given. } on g er obligatory, the pastor will inform them, that these pre 
cepts were not delivered as new laws, but rather as a renewal 
*nd development of the law of nature: its divine light, which 
was obscured and almost extinguished by the crimes and the per 
versity of man, shines forth in this celestial code with increased 
Note> and renovated splendour. The Ten Commandments, however, 
we are not bound to obey because delivered by Moses, but be 
cause they are so many precepts of the natural law, and have 
been explained and confirmed by our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Considera- But it must prove a most powerful and persuasive argument 
tions calcu- for enforcing its observance, to reflect that the founder of the 
force hsob- ^ aw * s no ^ ess a P erson tnan God himself that God whose 
servance. wisdom and justice we mortals cannot question whose power 
J- and might we cannot elude. Hence, we find that when by his 
prophet, he commands the Law to be observed, he proclaims 
that he is " the Lord God." The Decalogue, also, opens with 
the same solemn admonition : " I am the Lord thy God ;" 4 and 
in Malachy we read the indignant interrogatory : " If I am a 
master, where is my fear?" 5 That God has vouchsafed to give 
rj us a transcript of his holy will, on which depends our eternal 

i 2 Tim. iv. 3. 2 Tit. ii. 14. = Gal. iii. 19. * Exod. xx. 2. * Malach. i. 6. 

On the Decalogue. 23& 

salvation, is a consideration which, besides animating the faith 
ful to the observance of his commandments, must call forth the 
expression of their grateful homage in return for his beneficent 
condescension. Hence the Sacred Scriptures, in more pas 
sages than one, setting forth this invaluable blessing, admonish 
us to know our own dignity, and to appreciate the divine 
bounty: "This," says Moses, "is your wisdom and under 
standing in the sight of nations, that hearing all these precepts 
they may say : behold a wise and understanding people, a 
great nation ; "* " He hath not done in like manner to every 
nation ;" says the royal psalmist, " and his judgments he hath 
not made manifest to them." 3 

The circumstances which accompanied the promulgation of The cir- 

the Law, as recorded in the Sacred Volumes, also demand the cums1 ??- 
. ces which 

attention ot the pastor; they are well calculated to convey to attended 

the minds of the faithful an idea of the piety and humility with it 8 promul 
which they should receive and reverence a Law delivered by 8 aUon - 
God himself. Three days previous to its promulgation, was 
announced to the peopte the divine command, to wash their 
garments, to abstain from conjugal intercourse, in order that 
they may be more holy and better prepared to receive the Law, 
and on the third day to be in readiness to hear its awful an 
nouncement. When they had reached the mountain from 
which the Lord was to deliver the Law by Moses, Moses 
alone was commanded to ascend ; and the Lord descending 
from on high with great majesty, filling the mount with thun 
der and lightning, with fire and dense clouds ; spoke to Moses, 
and delivered to him the Law. 3 In this the divine wisdom had Note, 
solely for object to admonish us to receive his Law with pure 
and humble minds, and to impress the salutary truth, that over 
the neglect of his commands impend the heaviest chastisements 
of the divine justice. 

The pastor will also teach that the commandments of God Itsobser* 
are not difficult of observance, as these words of St. Augustine ance> 
are alone sufficient to show : " How, I ask, is it said to be im- easy 
possible for man to love to love, I say, a beneficent Creator, 
a most loving Father, and also, in the persons of his brethren, 
to love his own flesh ? Yet, 4 he who loveth has fulfilled the 
Law. " 5 Hence, the Apostle St. John expressly says, that 
" the commandments of God are not heavy?" 8 for, as St. Ber 
nard observes, " no duty more just could be exacted from man, 
none that could confer on him a more exalted dignity, none that 
could contribute more largely to his own interests." 7 Hence 
in this pio^s effusion addressed to the Deity himself, St. Augus 
tine expresses his admiration of his infinite bounty : " What," 
says he, " is man thou wouldst be loved by him ? And if ne 
loves thee not, thou threatenest him with heavy punishment Is 
it not punishment enough that I love thee not!" 

i Dent iv. 6. 2 p s . cxlvii. 20. 3 Exod. xix. 10. et seq. 

* Aug. serm. 47. de temp. 6 Rom. xiii. 8. 6 1 John v. 3. 

Lib. de diligendo Deo, lib. 1. Confess, c. 5. 


Human in 
firmity no 
plea for its 

All bound 
to obey its 


Fruits of 
its observ 

T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

But should any one plead human infirmity to exculpate him 
self from not loving God, it is not to be forgotten that he who 
demands our love " pours into our hearts by the Holy Ghost" 
the fervour of his love, 1 " and this good Spirit our Heavenly 
Father gives to those that ask him." 8 " Give what thou com- 
mandest," says St. Augustine, " and command what thou plea- 
sest." 3 As then, God is ever ready by his divine assistance to 
sustain our weakness, especially since the death of Christ the 
Lord, by which the prince of this world was cast out ; there is 
no reason why we should be disheartened by the difficulty of 
the undertaking ; to him who loves, nothing is difficult. 4 

To show that we are all laid under the necessity of obeying 
the Law is a consideration, which must possess additional 
weight in the enforcement of its observance ; and it becomes 
the more necessary to dwell on this particular in these our days, 
when there are not wanting those who, to the serious injury of 
their own souls, have the impious hardihood to assert that the 
observance of the Law, whether easy or difficult, is by no 
means necessary to salvation. This wicked and impious error 
the pastor will .refute from Scripture, by the authority of which 
they endeavour to defend their impious doctrine. What then 
are the words of the Apostle ? " Circumcision is nothing, and 
uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the command 
ments of God." 5 Again, inculcating the same doctrine, he says : 
"A new creature, in Christ, alone avails;" 8 by a "new crea 
ture," evidently meaning him who observes the commandments 
of God; for, as our Lord himself testifies in St. John, he who 
observes the commandments of God loves God : " If any one 
love me," says the Redeemer, " he will keep my word." 7 
A man, it is true, may be justified, and from wicked may be 
come righteous, before he has fulfilled by external acts each of 
the divine commandments ; but no one who has arrived at the 
use of reason, unless sincerely disposed to observe them all, can 
be justified. 

Finally, to leave nothing unsaid that may be calculated to 
induce to an observance of the Law, the pastor will point out 
how abundant and sweet are its fruits. This he will easily ac 
complish by referring to the eighteenth psalm, which celebrates 
the praises of the divine Law, amongst which its highest eulogy 
is, that it proclaims more eloquently the glory and the majesty 
of God than even the celestial orbs, which by their beauty and 
order, excite the admiration of the most barbarous nations, and 
compel them to acknowledge and proclaim the glory, the wis 
dom, and the power of the Creator and Architect of the uni 
verse. " The Law of the Lord" also " converts souls :" 
knowing the ways of God and his holy will through the me 
dium of his Law, we learn to walk in the way of the Lord. It 

Rom. v. 5. 2 Luke ii. 13. 

Lib. 10. confess, c. 29. 31 et 37. Item de bono persever. c. 20. 

Aug. in Ps. iii. Bom. Serm. de Dom. in ramis palm, item in serm. de Magdal. 

> 1 Cor. vii. 19, Gal. vi. 15. 7 John xiv. 21. 23. 

On the First Commandment. 241 

also, " gives wisdom to little ones r" 1 they alone who fear God 
are truly wise. Hence, the observers of the Law of God are 
filled with a profusion of pure delights, are enlightened by the 
knowledge of the divine mysteries, and are blessed with an ac 
cumulation of pleasures and rewards as well in this life, as in 
the life to come. 

In our observance of the Law, however, we should not be To he ob- 
actuated so much by a sense of our own advantage as by a re- se ve(1 for 
gard for the holy will of God, unfolded to man by the promul- God. 
gation of his Law : if the irrational part of creation is obedient 
to this his sovereign will, how much more reasonable that man 
should live in subjection to its dictate ? 

A further consideration which cannot fail to arrest our atten- A great 
tion, is, that God has j^re-eminently displayed his clemency and ^ 
the riches of his bounty in this, that whilst he might have com- its observ 
manded our service without a reward, he has, notwithstanding, ai >ce. 
deigned to identify his own glory with our advantage, thus ren 
dering what tends to his honour, conducive to our interests. 
This is a consideration of the highest importance, and one 
which proclaims aloud the goodness of God. The pastor then 
will not fail to impress on the minds of the faithful this salutary 
truth, telling them in the language of the prophet whom we 
have last quoted, that " in keeping the commandments of God 
there is a great reward." 3 Not only are we promised those 
blessings which seem to have reference to earthly happiness, 
to be " blessed in the city, and blessed in the field ;" 3 but we 
are also promised " a very great reward in heaven," 4 " good 
measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over,"- 11 
which, aided by the divine mercy, we merit by our actions 
when recommended by piety and justice. 



THE law announced in the Decalogue, although delivered to The wordi 
the Jews by the Lord from the summit of Sinai, was originally of tlie law- 
written by the finger of nature on the heart of man, 7 and was f r d ^ ** 
therefore rendered obligatory on mankind at all times by the people of 
Author of nature. It will, however, be found very salutary to Israel . to b 
explain with minute attention the words in which it was pro- expai 

i Ps. xviii. 8. 2 p s . xviii. 12. 3 rj eu t. xxviii. ? < Matt v. 12. 

*Lukevi.38. 6 Exod. xx, 2. " Rom. i. 19,20. 

21 2 H 

i24 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

claimed to the people of Israel by Moses, its minister and inter 
preter, and to present to the faithful an epitome of the myste 
rious economy of Providence towards that people. 

An epi- The pastor will first show, that from amongst the nations of 

h" 10 h^ ^ e eartn God chose one which descended from Abraham ; 
to^ that it was the divine will that Abraham should be a stranger 
in the land of Canaan, the possession of which he had promised 
him ; and that, although for more than forty years he and his 
posterity were wanderers, before they obtained possession of 
the land, God withdrew not from them his protecting care. 
" They passed from nation to nation and from one kingdom to 
another people ; he suffered no man to hurt them, and he re 
proved kings for their sakes." 1 Before they went down into 
Egypt, he sent before them one by whose prudence they and 
the people of Egypt were rescued from famine. In Egypt 
such was his paternal kindness towards them, that although 
opposed by the power of Pharaoh who sought their destruction, 
they increased to an extraordinary degree ; and when severely 
harassed and cruelly treated as slaves, he raised up Moses as a 
leader to conduct them from bondage with a strong hand This 
their deliverance is particularly referred to in these opening 
words of the Law; "I am the Lord thy God who brought 
thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." 
The people Having premised this brief sketch of the history of the peo- 
of Israel, pl e of Israel, the pastor will not omit to observe, that from 
^byGod. amongst the nations of the earth one was chosen by Almighty 
God whom he called " his people," and by whom he would 
be known and worshipped ; a not that they were superior to 
other nations in justice or in numbers, and of this God him 
self reminds them, but because, by the multiplication and ag 
grandizement of an inconsiderable and impoverished nation, 
he would display to mankind the extent of his power and the 
riches of his goodness. Such having been the circumstances 
of the Jewish nation, " He was closely joined to them, and 
loved them," 3 and Lord of heaven and earth as he was, he 
disdained not to be called " their God." The other nations 
were thus to be excited to a holy emulation, that seeing 
the superior happiness of the Israelites, mankind might em 
brace the worship of the true God; as St. Paul says that by 
placing before them the happiness of the Gentiles and the 
knowledge of the true God, " he provoked to emulation those 
who were his own flesh." 4 

The Israel- The pastor will next inform the faithful that God suffered 
ites why fa e Hebrew Fathers to wander for so long a time, and their 
tosufh ed posterity to be oppressed and harassed by a galling servitude 
trials. in order to teach us, that to be friends of God we must be ene 
mies of the world, and pilgrims in this vale of tears ; that an 
entire detachment from the world gives us an easier access to 
the friendship of God; and that admitted to his friendship we. 

i Ps. civ. 11. 2 Deut. vii. 6, 7. 3 Deut. x. 1 5. Rom. xi . 1 4. 

On the First Commandment. 243 

may experience the superior happiness enjoyed by those who 
serve God rather than the world. This is the solemn admoni 
tion of God himself: " yet they shall serve him, that they 
may know the difference between my service and the service 
of a kingdom of the earth." 1 

The pastor will also remind the faithful that God delayed The fulfil- 
the fulfilment of his promise until after the lapse of more than [^"n^pri^ 
four hundred years, in order that the Israelites might be sus- miseswhy 
tained by faith and hope ; for, as we shall show more particu- ! Ion 8 dp 
larly when we come to explain the First Commandment, God 
will have his children centre all their hopes and repose all their 
confidence in his goodness. 

Finally, the time and place, when and where the people of The time 
Israel received this law, deserve particular attention. They j 1 ,"^^ 6 
received it when, having been delivered from the bondage of the law 
Egypt, they had come into the wilderness ; in order, that im- vvas deli- 
pressed with a lively sense of gratitude for a blessing still fresh chosen"* J 
in their recollection, and awed by the dreariness of the wild 
waste in which they journeyed, they might be the better dis 
posed to receive the law. To those whose bounty we have 
experienced we are bound by ties of reciprocity ; and when 
man has lost all hope of assistance from his fellow man, he 
then seeks refuge in the protection of God. We are hence jvjote 
given to understand, that the more detached the faithful are 
from the allurements of the world, and the pleasures of sense, 
the more disposed are they to lend a willing ear to the doc 
trines of salvation : " whom shall he teach knowledge," says 
Isaias, "and whom shall he make to understand the hearing? 
Them that are weaned from the milk, that are drawn away 
from the breasts." 3 

The pastor, then, will use his best endeavours to induce the Opening 
faithful to keep continually in view these words, " I am the ^ or iL s 0< 
Lord thy God." From them they will learn that he who is bgue 
their Creator and conservator, by whom they were made, and 
are preserved, is also their legislator, and that they may truly 
say with the Psalmist: " He is the Lord our God, and we are 
the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand." 3 The 
frequent and earnest inculcation of these words will also serve 
to induce the faithful to a more willing observance of the law, 
and a more cautious abstinence from sin. 

The words, " who brought thee out of the land of Egypt A strong 
and the house of bondage," come next in order ; and, whilst incentive 
they seem to relate solely to the Jews liberated from the bond- 
age of Egypt, are, if considered in their implicit reference to 
universal salvation, still more applicable to Christians, who are 
liberated, not from the bondage of Egypt, but from the slavery 
of sin, and " the power of darkness, and are translated into the 
kingdom of his beloved Son." 4 Contemplating in the vision 
of prophecy the magnitude of this favour, the prophet Jere- 

1 2 Par. xii. 8. 2 Isa. xxviii. 9. 3 Ps. xciv. 7. * Col. i. 13. 

244 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

miah exclaims: " behold the days come, saith the Lord, when 
it shall be said no more : the Lord liveth that brought forth the 
children of Israel out of the land of Egypt ; but the Lord liveth 
that brought the children of Israel out of the land of the North 
and out of all the lands to which I cast them out ; and I will 
bring them again into their land which I gave to their Fathers. 
Behold, I will send many fishes, saith the Lord, and they shall 
fish them, &C." 1 Our most indulgent Father has " gathered 
together" through his beloved Son, his "children that were 
dispersed,"* that, "being made free from sin and made the ser 
vants of justice," 3 " we may serve before him in holiness and 
justice all our days." 4 Against every temptation, therefore, 
the faithful should arm themselves with these words of the 
Apostle as with a shield : " shall we who are dead to sin live 
any longer therein?" 5 We are no longer our own: we are 
his who died and rose again for us: he is the Lord our God 
who has purchased us for himself at the price of his blood. 
Shall we then be any longer capable of sinning against the 
Lord our God, and crucifying him again ? Being made truly 
free, and with that liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, 
let us, as we heretofore yielded our members to serve injustice, 
henceforward yield them to serve justice to sanctification. 


the Deca- Decalogue naturally divides itself into two parts, the first em- 
logue. bracing what regards God, the second what regards our neigh 
bour; the duties which we discharge towards our neighbour 
are referred to God ; then only do we fulfil the divine precept 
which commands us to love our neighbour, when we love him 
in God. This division of the Decalogue the pastor will make 
known to the faithful ; and he will add that the commandments 
which regard God, are those which were inscribed on the first 
table of the law. 

This pre- He will next show that the words which form the subject 
ceptcom- matter of the present exposition contain a two-fold precept; 
h?bi d the one mandatory, the other prohibitory When it is said ; 
what it " Thou shalt not have strange gods before me," it is equiva- 
comraands. j ent to sa yi n g ; thou shalt worship me the true God : thou 
shalt not worship strange gods." The former contains a pre 
cept of faith, hope, and charity of faith, for, acknowledging 
God to be immoveable, immutable, always the same, faithful, 
vre acknowledge an eternal truth in the recognition of these his 
attributes : assenting therefore to his oracles, we necessarily 
yield to him all faith and authority of hope, for who can con 
template his omnipotence, his clemency, his beneficence, and 
not repose in him all his hopes ? of charity, for who can 
behold the riches of his goodness and love, which he lavishes 
on us with so bounteous a hand, and not love him ? with this 

i Jerem. xvi. 14, et seq. J John xi. 52. Rom. vi. 18. 

4 Luke i. 74, 75. 5 Horn. vi. 2. 6 Exod. xx. 3. 

On the Honour and Invocation of the Saints. 245 

exalted claim upon our obedience therefore commence, with 
this conclude all his commandments : " I am the Lord." 

The negative part of the precept is comprised in these words : What it 
" thou shalt not have strange gods before me." This our P rohlblts - 
divine legislator subjoins, not because it is not implied in the 
positive part of the precept, which says equivalently : "thou 
shalt worship me the only God," for if he is God, he is the 
only God ; but on account of the blindness of many, who of 
old professed to worship the true God, and yet adored a multi 
tude of gods. Of these there were many even amongst the 
Israelites, whom Elias reproached with having " halted between 
two sides," 1 and also amongst the Samaritans, who worshipped 
the God of Israel and the gods of the nations. 3 

Having thus explained the precept in its two-fold import, the This first 
pastor will observe that this is the first and principal command- ^ e ^" d " 
ment, not only in order, but also in its nature, dignity, and superior 
excellence. God is entitled to infinitely greater love and to importance 
higher authority with regard to his creatures than the masters 
or monarchs of the earth. He created us, He governs us, He 
nurtured us even in the womb, brought us into existence, and 
still supplies us by his provident care with all the necessaries 
of life. Against this commandment therefore transgress all who How vio- 
have not faith, hope, and charity ; a numerous class, amongst lated- 
whom are those who fall into heresy, who reject what the 
church of God teaches ; those who give credit to dreams, divi 
nation, for tune telling, and such superstitious illusions; those 
who despairing of salvation trust not in the goodness of God; 
and also those who place their happiness solely in the wealth of 
this world, in health and strength, in personal attractions, or 
mental endowments. But these are matters which the pastor 
will find developed more at large in treatises on morality. 3 


IN the exposition of this precept, the faithful are also to be ac- The ho- 
curately taught that the veneration and invocation of angels and j^ 1 
saints, who enjoy the glory of heaven, and the honour which O f the 
the Catholic Church has always paid even to the bodies and saints not 
ashes of the saints, are not forbidden by this commandment. 4 jjJ^ ) s lted 
Were a king to prohibit by proclamation any individual to as- command 

i 3 Kings xviii. 21. 2 4 Kings xvii. 33. 

3 De variis istis peccatis vide dist. 24. q. 2. multis in capitibus. Aug. in lib. de di- 
vinat. diemon. cap. 5. et citatur 26. q. 4. a. secundum. Origen. horn, 5. in Joshue et 
habet 26. q. 2. c. sed et illud Aug. lib. 2. de doct. Christian, cap. 19. and 20. et ci 
tatur eodein cap. illud quod est. Cone. Garth. 4. cap. 19. vid. plura 26. q. 2, 3 et 5. 

4 Vid. Trid. sess. 17. de Sacrif Missae. c. 3. et sess. 25. sub princip. cap. de invo- 
cat. Sanctorum. Item vid. Synod. 7. act. 6. in fine, item Aug. lib. 8. de civit. Dei. 
c. 27. et lib. 10. c. 1. et lib. 21. contra Faust, c. 21. Basil. Horn. 20. in 40. Mar. et 
<!G. de Mar. Mamman : item Nazian. orat. in land. S. Cyprian. 



Angels re 
fused to be 
j>ed by 
men, on 
what occa 
sions. To 
be honour 

and invo 

To honour 
the saints 
does not 
from, but 

Tlit Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

sume the regal character, or accept the honours due to the royal 
person, how unreasonable to infer from such an edict a prohi 
bition that suitable honour and respect should be paid to his 
magistrates ? Of this nature is the relative honour paid by the 
Catholic Church to angels and saints. When, walking in the 
footsteps of those exalted characters, whose names are recorded 
in the Old Testament, she is said "to adore the angels of God," 
she venerates them as the special friends and servants of God, 
but gives not to them that supreme honour which is due to God 

True, we sometimes read that angels refused to be worshipped 
by men j 1 but the worship which they refused to accept was 
the supreme honour due to God alone : the Holy Spirit who 
says: "Honour and glory to God alone," 3 commands us also 
to honour our parents and elders ; 3 and the holy men who adored 
one God only, are also said in Scripture to have " adored," that 
is supplicated and venerated, kings. If then kings, by whose 
agency God governs the world, are so highly honoured, 4 shall 
it be deemed unlawful to honour those angelic spirits, whom 
God has been pleased to constitute his ministers, whose services 
he makes use of not only in the government of his Church, but 
also of the Universe, by whose invisible aid we are every day 
delivered from the greatest dangers of soul and body ? Are they 
not, rather, to be honoured with a veneration greater, in propor 
tion as the dignity of these blessed spirits exceeds that of kings ? 
Another claim on our veneration is their love of us, which, as the 
Scripture informs us, 5 prompts them to pour out their prayers 
for those countries over which they are placed by Providence, 
and for us whose guardians they are, and whose prayers and 
tears they present before the throne of God. 6 Hence our Lord 
admonishes us in the Gospel not to offend the little ones, "be 
cause their angels in heaven always see the face of their Father 
who is in heaven." 7 Their intercession, therefore, we invoke, 
because they always see the face of God, and are constituted 
by him the willing advocates of our salvation. To this their 
invocation the Scriptures bear testimony Jacob invoked, nay 
compelled, the angel with whom he wrestled, to bless him, 8 
declaring that he would not let him go until he had blessed 
him ; and not only did he invoke the blessing of the angel 
whom he saw, but also of him whom he saw not : " The an 
gel," says he, " who delivered me out of all evil, bless these 
children." 9 

From these attestations we are justified in concluding, that to 
honour the saints " who sleep in the Lord," to invoke their 
intercession, and to venerate their sacred relics and ashes, far 
from diminishing, tends considerably to increase the glory of 

i Apoc. six. 10. Apoc. xxii. 9. 
3 Deut. v. 16. 
6 Dan. x. 13. 
Matt, xviii. 10. 
9 Geri. xlviii. 16 

2 1 Tim. i. 17. Exod. xx. 2. Levit. xix. 11. 
4 Gen. xxiii. 7. 2 Kings xxiv. 20. 1 Par. 29. 20- 
6 Tob. xii. 12. Apoc. viii. 3. 
s Gen. xxxii. 26. Osee xii. 4. 

On the Honour and Invocation of the Saints. 24? 

God, in proportion as the Christian s hope is thus animated and adds to the 
fortified, and he himself excited to the imitation of their virtues. t "J u 
This is a doctrine which is also supported by the authority of 
the second Council of Nice, 1 the Council of Gangre, 3 and of TheCoun- 
Trent, 3 and by the testimony of the Holy Fathers. 4 In order ^ fa 
however that the pastor may be the better prepared to meet the there, 
objections of those who impugn this doctrine, he will consult 
particularly St. Jerome against Vigilantius, and the fourth book, 
sixteenth chapter of Damascene on the orthodox faith ; 5 and Apostolic 
what, if possible, is still more conclusive, he will appeal to the tradition, 
uniform practice of Christians, as handed down by the Apostles 
and faithfully preserved in the Church of God. 6 But what ar- Scripture 
gument more convincing, than that which is supplied by the 
admirable praises given in Scripture to the saints of God ! If 
the inspired Volume celebrates the praises of particular saints, 
why question for a moment the propriety of paying them the 
same tribute of praise and veneration? 7 Another claim which The saints 
the saints have to be honoured and invoked is, that they ear- theTr prav^ 
nestly importune God for our salvation, and obtain for us by ers. 
their intercession many favours and blessings. If there is joy 
in heaven for the conversion of one sinner, 8 can the citizens of 
heaven be indifferent to his conversion, or neglect to assist him 
by their prayers ? When their interposition is solicited by the 
penitent, will they not rather implore the pardon of his sins, and 
the grace of his conversion ? Should it be said that their patron- Objection 
age is unnecessary, because God hears our prayers without the 
intervention of a mediator, the objection is at once met by the 
observation of St. Augustine : " There are many things, says Answer 
he, " which God does not grant without a mediator and interces 
sor:" 9 an observation the justness of which is confirmed by two 
illustrious examples Abimelech and the friends of Job were par 
doned but through the prayers of Abraham and of Job. 10 Should 
it be alleged, that to recur to the patronage and intercession of the 
saints argues want or weakness of faith, the answer of the Cen 
turion refutes the allegation : his faith was highly eulogized by 
our Lord himself; and yet he sent to the Redeemer " the An 
cients of the Jews," to intercede with him to heal his servant. 11 

True, there is but one Mediator, Christ the Lord, who alone Objection, 
has reconciled us through his blood, 13 and who, having accom 
plished our redemption, and having once entered into the Holy 
of Holies, ceases not to intercede for us ; 13 but it by no means Answer. 

1 Nicasri. Cone. 2. act. 6. 

2 Gangr. Can. xx. et citatur dist. 30. cap. si quis per superbiam. 

3 Trid. sess. 25. item Cone. Chalced. sub finem et in 6. Synod. General, c. 7. et 
Cone. Geron. c. 3. Aurel. 1. c. 29. 

4 Damasc. do orth, fid. lib. 4. c. 6. s Lib. 4. de orth. fid. c, 16. 

6 Dionys. c. 7. Hier. Eccles. Iren. lib. 5. contra hseres. c. 19. Athan. serm. in 
Evangel, de sancta Deip. Euseb. lib. 13. praspar. Evang. c. 7. Cornel, pap. epist. 1. 
Hilar. in Ps. 126. Ambr. in lib. de viduis. 

i Eccl. xliv. xlv. xlvi. xlvii. xlviii. xlix. lib. Hebr. xi. 8 Luke xv. 7. 10. 

9 Aug. qurest. 149 super Exod. serm. 2. et 4. de St. Sleph. 

Gen. xx. Matt. viii. 5. Luke vii. 3. 2 1 Tim. ii. 5. 

3 Heb. ix. 12 et 7. 25. 

248 Tlie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

follows, that it is therefore unlawful to have recourse to the in 
tercession of the saints. If, because we have one mediator Christ 
Jesus, it were unlawful to ask the intercession of the saints, 
the Apostle would not have recommended himself with so much 
earnestness to the prayers of his brethren on earth. 1 In his 
capacity as Mediator, the prayers of the living should derogate 
from the glory and dignity of Christ not less than the interces 
sion of the saints in heaven. 

The invo- But what incredulity so obstinate but must yield to the evi- 
cation of Jence in support of the honour and invocation of the saints, 
ved b^tiie which the wonders wrought at their tombs flash upon the mind ? 
miracles The blind see, the lame walk, the paralyzed are invigorated, the 
theimmbs ^ eac ^ ra sec ^ to ^ e anc ^ ev ^ demons are expelled from the bodies 
of men ! These are authentic facts, attested not, as frequently 
happens, by very grave persons who have heard them from 
others ; they are facts which rest on the ocular attestation of wit 
nesses, whose veracity is beyond all question, of an Ambrose, 2 
and con- and an Augustine. 3 But why multiply proofs on this head ? 
by ^ ^ ie c l taes tne kerchiefs, 4 and even the very shadows of 
the saints, whilst yet on earth, banished disease and restored 
health and vigour, who will have the hardihood to deny that 
God can still work the same wonders by the holy ashes, the 
bones and other relics of his saints who are in glory ? Of this 
we have a proof in the resuscitation of the dead body which 
was let down into the grave of Eliseus, and which, on touch 
ing the body of the prophet, was instantly restored to life. 5 


These Some, supposing these words to constitute a distinct precept, 

words do re duce the ninth and tenth commandments into one. St. Au- 
a distinct" 1 gustine holds a different opinion : considering the two last to be 
precept. distinct, he refers these words to the first commandment ; 7 and 
this division, because well known and much approved in the 
Catholic church, we willingly adopt. As a very strong argu 
ment in its favour, we may, however, add the propriety of an 
nexing to the first commandment its sanction, the rewards or 
punishments attached to its observance or violation ; a propriety 
which can be preserved in the arrangement alone which we 
have chosen. 

Do not pro- This commandment does not prohibit the arts of painting or 
hibit the sculpture ; the Scriptures inform us that God himself commanded 
images of Cherubim, 8 and also the brazen serpent 9 to be made; 

Rom. xv. 30. Heb, xiii. 18. 2 Ambr. epist. 85. et serm. 95. 

3 Aug. de civit. Dei, lib. 22. c. 8. et epist, 137. 

4 Acts v. xk. 12et5. 15. a 4 Kings xiii. 21. 6 Exod. xx. 4. 

7 Vid. Aug. super Exod. quaest. 71. and in Ps. 32. serm. 2. Sententia D. Aug. de 
pnceeptorum dist inctione magis placet Ecclewae Vid. D. Thorn, i. 2. quasi. 100. art, 4. 
Exod. xxv. 18. 3 Kings vi. 27. 9 Num. xxi. 8. 9. 

On the Honour and Invocation of the Saints. 249 

and the conclusion, therefore, at which we must arrive, is that 
images are prohibited only in as much as they may be the 
means of transferring the worship of God to inanimate objects, 
as though the adoration offered them were given to so many 

By the violation of this commandment the majesty of God is Prohibit 
grievously offended in a two-fold manner : the one, by wor- t 
shipping idols and images as gods, or believing that they pos 
sess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by 
praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, 
who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scrip 
tures universally reprobate : the other, by attempting to form a 
representation of the Deity, as if he were visible to mortal eyes, 
or could be represented by the pencil of the painter or the 
chisel of the statuary. " Who," says Damascene, " can repre 
sent God, invisible, as he is, incorporeal, uncircumscribed by 
limits, and incapable of being described under any figure or 
form T" 1 This subject, however, the pastor will find treated 
more at large in the second Council of Nice. 2 Speaking of the 
Gentiles, the Apostle has these admirable words : " They 
changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of 
the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four- 
footed beasts, and of creeping things." 3 Hence the Israelites, 
when they exclaimed before the molten calf: "These are thy 
Gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of 
Egypt,"* are denounced as idolaters ; because they "changed 
their glory into the likeness of a calf that eateth grass." 5 

When, therefore, the Almighty forbids the worship of strange Their 
gods, with a view to the utter extinction of all idolatry, he also meanin g- 
prohibits the formation of an image of the Deity from brass or 
other materials, as Isaias declares when he asks : " To whom 
then have you likened God, or what image will you make 
for him?" 8 That this is the meaning of the prohibitory part 
of the precept is proved, not only from the writings of the 
Holy Fathers, who, as may be seen in the seventh General 
Council, give to it this interpretation ; but also from these words 
of Deuteronomy, by which Moses sought to withdraw the 
Israelites from the worship of idols: "You saw not," says he, 
" any similitude in the day that the Lord God spoke to you in 
Horeb, from the midst of the fire." 7 These words this wisest 
of legislators addressed to the people of Israel, lest through 
error of any sort, they should make an image of the Deity, and 
transfer to any thing created, the honour due to God alone. 

To represent the Persons of the Holy Trinity by certain To repre- 
forms, under which, as we read in the Old and New Testa- theKo 
ments, they deigned to appear, is not to be deemed contrary to of^Tri 
religion, or the Law of God. Wrn so ignorant as to believe nity under 
lhat such forms are express images jf the Deity ? forms, as S^t 

i Damas. lib. 4. de ortrod. fid. c. 17. 2 Cone. Nicsen. 2 act. 3 P r h bited. 

s Rom. i. 23. 1 Exod. xxxii. 4 s Ps. cv. 20. 

Isa. xl. 18. Acts vii. 40. T Deut. iv. 15, 16. 



The same 
true with 
regard to 

which re 
present the 
Ghost ; 

the Saints, 
and also 
the Re 

The lawful 
use of im 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

the pastor will teach, which only express some attribute or ac 
tion ascribed to God. Thus, Daniel describes " The Ancient 
of Days, seated on a throne, and before him the books opened ;" 
to signify his eternity and wisdom, by which he sees and 
judges all the thoughts and actions of men. 1 Angels, also, are 
represented under human form and winged, to give us to under 
stand that they are actuated by benevolent feelings towards us, 
and are always prepared to execute the ministry of God to man : 
" they are all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who 
shall receive the inheritance of salvation." 3 That attributes of 
the Holy Ghost are represented under the forms of a dove, and 
of tongues of fire, as we read in the Gospel 3 and in the Acts of 
the Apostles, 4 is a matter too well known to require lengthened 

But to make and honour the images of our Lord, of his holy 
and virginal Mother, and of the Saints, all of whom appeared 
in human form, is not only not forbidden by this command 
ment, but has always been deemed a holy practice, and the 
surest indication of a mind deeply impressed with gratitude 
towards them. This position derives confirmation from the mo 
numents of the Apostolic age, the General Councils of the 
Church, and the writings of so many amongst the Fathers, emi 
nent alike for sanctity and learning, all of whom are of one ac 
cord upon the subject. But the pastor will not content himself 
with showing the lawfulness of the use of images in churches, 
and of paying them religious respect, when this respect is re 
ferred to their prototypes he will do more he will show that 
the uninterrupted observance of this practice up to the present 
time has been attended with great advantage to the faithful ; as 
may be seen in the work of Damascene, on images, 5 and in the 
seventh General Council, which is the second of Nice. 6 

But as the enemy of mankind, by his wiles arid deceits, 
seeks to pervert even the most holy institutions, should the 
faithful happen at all to offend in this particular, the pastor, in 
accordance with the decree of the Council of Trent, 7 will use 
every exertion in his power to correct such an abuse, and, if ne 
cessary, explain the decree itself to the people. He will also 
inform the unlettered, and those who may be ignorant of the 
proper use of images, that they are intended to instruct in the 
history of the Old and New Testaments, and to revive the 
recollection of the events which they record ; that thus excited 
to the contemplation of heavenly things we may be the more 
ardently inflamed to adore and love God. He will, also, in 
form the faithful that the images of the Saints are placed in 
churches, not only to be honoured, but that, also, admonished 
by their example we may imitate their lives and emulate their 
virtues. 8 

i Dan. vii. 13. 2 Heb. i. 14. 3 Mat lii. 16. Mark i. 10. Luke iii. 22. 

John i. 32. 4 Acts ii. 3. s Lib. 4. de fid. orthod. cap. 17. 

6 JNic. Syn. passim. 7 Trid. Con. Sess. 23. 

" De cuitu et usu imaginum vid. Concil. Nicoen. 1. act 7. Histor. tnpart, lib. 6 

On the Honour and Invocation of the Saints. 251 


MY COMMANDMENTS."] In this concluding 1 clause of the first In these 
commandment, two things occur which demand exposition, concluding 
The first is, that whilst, on account of the enormous guilt ^nss de^ 
incurred by the violation of the first commandment, and the mand ex- 
propensity of man towards its violation, the punishment is here P lanj "on. 
properly proposed : it is also appended to all the other com 
mandments. Every law enforces its observance by some sanc 
tion, by rewards and punishments ; and hence the frequent and 
numerous promises of God, which are recorded in Scripture. 
To omit those that we meet almost in every page of the Old 
Testament, we read in the Gospel: "If thou wilt enter into 
life, keep the commandments ;"* and again : " He that doth the 
will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter heaven ;" 3 
and also ; " Every tree that doth not yield good fruit shall be 
cut down and cast into the fire ;" 3 " Whosoever is angry with 
his brother shall be guilty of the judgment ;" 4 " If you will 
not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your of 
fences." 5 The other observation is, that this divine sanction is n 
to be proposed in a very different manner to the spiritual and 
to the carnal Christian : to the spiritual who is animated by the 
Spirit of God, 6 and who yields to him a willing and cheerful 
obedience, it is, in some sort, glad tidings, and a strong proof 
of the divine goodness : in it he recognises the parental care of 
a most loving God, who, now by rewards, again by punish 
ments, almost compels his creatures to adore and worship him. 
The spiritual man acknowledges the infinite goodness of God 
in vouchsafing to issue his commands to him, and to make use 
of his service to the glory of the divine name ; and not only 
does he acknowledge the divine goodness, he also cherishes a 
strong hope that, when God commands what he pleases, he 
will also give strength to fulfil what he commands. But to the 
carnal man, who is not yet disenthralled from the spirit of servi 
tude, and who abstains from sin more through fear of punish 
ment than love of virtue, this sanction of the divine Law, which 
closes each of the commandments, is burdensome and severe. 
He is, therefore, to be supported by pious exhortation, and to 
be led, as it were, by the hand, in the path pointed out by the 
Law of God. These two classes of persons the pastor, there- 

c. 41. Eus. lib. 8. Hist. Eccl. c. 14. Cyril, lib. 6. contr. Jul. Aug. lib. 1. de consensu 
Evang. c, 10. vid. item, sextam Synod, can. 82. et Cone. Rom. sub. Greg. III. et 
Cone. Gentiliac. Item ef aliud Rom. sub Stephano III. Vid. etiam lib. de Rom. 
Pontif. in vita Sylvestri. Item Lactant. carm, de pass. Dom. Basil oral, in S. Bar- 
laham, Greg. Nyss. oral, in Theod. Prud. Hym. de S. Cas. et hym. de S. Hippolyt. 
Item apud Baron. Annal. Eccles. an 57. num. 116. et deinceps. vid. interum Aug. 
contra Faust, lib. 22. c. 73- 

1 Matt. xix. 17. 2 Matt vii. 21. 3 Matt. iii. 10. and vii. 19. 

* Matt. v. 23. s Matt. vi. 15. 6 Rom. viii. 14. 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

They also 

inents for 



Zeal in the 
service of 

fore, will keep in view, as often as he has occasion to explain 
any of the commandments. 

The carnal and spiritual are, however, to be excited by two 
cons d erat i ns > which are contained in this concluding clause, 
and are well calculated to enforce obedience to the divine Law 

The ne is that when God is called " Tne Stron g>" tne iforce 
f tna t appellation requires to be fully expounded to the faith- 
ful ; because, unappalled by the terrors of the divine menaces, 
the flesh frequently indulges in the delusive expectation of esca 
ping, in a variety of ways, the wrath of God and his menaced 
judgments. But when deeply impressed with the awful con 
viction that God is " The Strong," the sinner will exclaim 
with David : " Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? or whither 
shall I flee from thy face T" 1 The flesh, also, distrusting the 
promises of God, sometimes magnifies the power of the enemy 
to such an extent, as to believe itself unable to withstand his 
assaults ; whilst on the contrary, a firm and unshaken faith, 
which relies confidently on the strength and power of God, 
animates and confirms the hopes of man : it exclaims with the 
Psalmist : " The Lord is my light and my salvation ; whom 
shall I fear?" 8 

The second consideration is the jealousy of God. Man is 
sometimes tempted to think that God, indifferent whether we 
contemn or observe his Law, takes no concern in human affairs, 
an error which is the source of the greatest disorders ; but 
when we believe that God is a jealous God, the reflection 
tends powerfully to restrain us within the limits of our duty 
towards him. The jealousy attributed to God does not, how 
ever, imply agitation of mind : it is that divine love and charity 
by which God will suffer no human creature to resist his sove 
reign will with impunity, and which "destroys all those who 
are disloyal to him." 3 The jealousy of God, therefore, is the 
most impartial justice, the calmness of which is undisturbed by 
the least commotion, a justice which repudiates as an adulteress 
the soul which is corrupted by erroneous opinions and criminal 
passions ; and in this jealousy of God, evincing as it does his 
boundless and incomprehensible goodness towards us, we re 
cognise at once a source of pure and unmixed pleasure. It de 
clares that the soul is his spouse, and what stronger tie of affec 
tion, or closer bond of union can bind him to us ? God, there 
fore, when frequently comparing himself to a spouse or hus 
band, he calls himself a jealous God, demonstrates the excess 
of his love towards us. 

The pastor, therefore, will here exhort the faithful, that they 
should be so warmly interested in promoting the worship and 
honour of God, as to be said with more propriety to be jealous 
of, rather than to love him ; imitating the example of Elias, 
who says of himself: " With zeal have I been zealous for the 

Ps. cxxxviii. 7. 

2 Ps. xxvi. 1 

* Pa. Ixxii. 27. 

On the Honour and Invocation of the Saints. 253 

Lord God of Hosts j" 1 or rather of Jesus Christ himself, who 
says : " The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up." 2 

The pastor should also set forth the terrors denounced in The Law 
the menaces of God s judgments menaces which declare that "^^Jj 
he will not suffer sinners to run their iniquitous career with with impu- 
impunity ; but will chastise them with the fondness of a parent, nit y- 
or punish them with the rigour of a judge ; and which, on 
another occasion, are thus expressed by Moses: " Thou shalt 
^\now that the Lord thy God is a strong and faithful God, 
keeping his covenant and mercy to them that love him, and 
to them that keep his commandments, unto a thousand genera- 
lions ; and repaying forthwith them that hate him, so as to 
destroy them without further delay, immediately rendering to 
them what they deserve." 3 " You will not," says Josue, " be 
able to serve the Lord ; for he is a holy God, and mighty and 
jealous, and will not forgive your wickedness and sins. If you 
leave the Lord and serve strange gods, he will turn and will afflict 
you, and will destroy you." 4 The faithful are also to be taught, Note, 
that the punishments here threatened await the third and fourth 
generation of the impious and wicked ; not that the children are 
always visited with the chastisements due to the delinquency of 
their parents, but that, although they and their children may 
go unpunished, their posterity shall not all escape the wrath 
and vengeance of the Almighty. Of this we have an illustra 
tion in the life of king Josias : God had spared him for his 
singular piety, and allowed him to be gathered to the tomb of 
his fathers in peace, that his eyes might not behold the evils 
of the times that were to befall Judah and Jerusalem, on ac 
count of the wickedness of his father Manasseh ; yet, after his 
decease, the divine vengeance so overtook his posterity, that 
even the children of Josias were not spared. 5 

The words of this commandment may perhaps seem to be at An appa- 
variance with the sentence pronounced by the prophet : " The ["j 1 - 1 ^"" 
soul that sins shall die ;" 8 but the authority of St. Gregory, reconciled 
supported by the concurrent testimony of all the ancient fathers, 
satisfactorily reconciles this apparent contradiction: "Who 
ever," says he, " follows the bad example of a wicked father 
is also bound by his sins ; but he, who does not follow the ex 
ample of a wicked father, shall not at all suffer for the sins of 
the father. Hence it follows that a wicked son, who dreads 
not to superadd his own malice to the vices of his father, by 
which he knows the divine wrath to have been excited, is 
burdened not only with his own additional sins, but also with 
those of his wicked father. It is just that he who dreads not to 
walk in the footsteps of a wicked father, in presence of a rigor 
ous judge, should be subjected in the present life to the punish 
ment invoked by the crimes of his wicked parent." 7 

i 3 Kings xix. 10. 2 p s . i xv iii. 10. John ii. 17. Deut. vii. 9, 10. 

< Josue xxiv. 19, 20. 5 2 Par. 36. iii. 6. 4 Kings xxii. 20. 6 Ezech. xviii. 4. 
. Extat locus Greg. lib. 15. moral, c. 31. Vid. Aug. epist. 75. D. Thorn. 1. 2. q. 87 



The mercy 
of God ex 
ceeds his 

The wick 
ed hate 

The good 
are in 
fluenced by 
Jove in the 
of his Law. 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

That the goodness and mercy cf God far exceed his justice 
is another observation, which the pastor will not fail to make 
to the faithful : he is angry to the third and fourth generation ; 
but he bestows his mercy on thousands. 

The words : " Of them that hate me" display the grievous- 
ness of sin : what more wicked ? what more detestable than to 
hate God, the supreme goodness and sovereign truth ? This, 
however, is the crime of all sinners : for as he who observes 
the commandments of God, loves God, 1 so he who despises his 
Law, and violates his commandments, is justly said to hate 
God. The concluding words: "And them that love me," 
point out the manner and motive of observing the Law of 
God : those who observe the divine Law should be influenced 
in its observance by the same love and charity which they bear 
to God ; a principle which applies with equal force and truth 
to the exposition and observance of all the other command 


IN VAIN." 3 

tinct from 
the first 

This com- THIS precept is necessarily comprised in the former, which 
niJent> commands us to worship God in piety and holiness : He who 
is to be honoured must also be spoken of with reverence and 
must forbid the contrary, according to these words of Malachy : 
" The son honoureth the father, and the servant his master : if 
then I be a father, where is my honour ?" 3 Yet, on account of 
the importance of the obligation which it imposes, God would 
make this law, which commands his name to be honoured, a 
distinct precept ; and this he does in the clearest and simplest 
terms. This observation must have much influence in con 
vincing the pastor, that on this point it is not enough to speak 
in general terms : that its importance is such as to require to be 
dwelt upon at considerable length, and to be explained to the 
faithful in all its bearings with distinctness, clearness, and ac 
curacy. 4 

This assiduity on the part of the pastor cannot be deemed 
superfluous : there are not wanthfg those who are so blinded by 
the darkness of error as not to dread to blaspheme his name, 
whom the angels glorify ; and who are not deterred by the di 
vine commandment from shamefully and daringly outr.iuing his 
divine majesty every day, or rather every hour and moment of 

John xiv. 21. 5 Exod. xx. 7. 3 Malach. i. f>. 

i De hoc prtecepto vid. D. Thorn. 2. 2. q. 122. art. 3. item et 1. 2. q. 100, an. 5. 


On the Second Commandment. 255 

the day. "W ho is ignorant that every assertion is accompanied 
with an oath ? that every conversation teems with curses and 
imprecations ? To such lengths has this impiety been carried, 
that one scarcely buys, or sells, or transacts ordinary business 
of any sort, without interposing the solemn pledge of an oath, 
and even in matters the most unimportant and trivial, thousands 
of times rashly appealing to the most holy name of God ! It 
therefore becomes more imperative on the pastor, not to 
neglect, carefully and frequently, to admonish the faithful of the 
grievousness and horror of this detestable crime. 

But in the exposition of this commandment, the pastor will Contains a 
show, that, besides a negative, it also contains a positive precept negative 
commanding the performance of a duty, and will give to each a ^" e ^.j^ 61 
separate exposition. In the first place, to facilitate the explana- cept. 
tion of these matters, it is necessary to know what the precept 
commands, and what it prohibits. It commands us to honour 
the name of God, and when solemnly appealing to him by an 
oath, to do so with due reverence : it prohibits us to contemn 
the divine name, to take it in vain, or swear by it falsely, un 
necessarily, or rashly. When therefore we are commanded to Not*. 
honour the name of God, the command, as the pastor will show, 
is not directed to the letters or syllables of which that name is 
composed, or in any respect to the mere name ; but to the im 
port of a word used to express the Omnipotent and Eternal 
Majesty of the Godhead, Trinity in unity. Hence we at once 
perceive the superstition of those amongst the Jews who, whilst 
they hesitated not to write, dared not to pronounce the name of 
God, as if the divine power consisted in the letters of which it 
is composed, and not in their signification. 

In the annunciation of the divine precept, the word " name," The com 
although occurring in the singular number, " Thou shalt not m ndment 
take the name of God," is not to be understood to refer to any everyname 
one name in particular: it extends to everyname by which by which 
God is generally designated. He is called by many names, ^ a t s e j] 6 ~ 
such as "the Lord," " the Almighty," "the Lord of Hosts," 
" the King of Kings," "the Strong," and by others of similar 
import, which we meet in Scripture ; all of which are entitled 
to the same veneration. 

The pastor will also teach how the name of God is to be ho- The name 
noured. Christians, whose tongues should every day celebrate the P f Go ^ 
divine praises, are not to be ignorant of a matter so important, n oured. 
indeed so necessary to salvation. The name of God may be 
honoured in a variety of ways; but all seem to be included 
under the following heads. His name is honoured, when we r 
openly and confidently confess him to be our Lord and our 
God ; and not only acknowledge but proclaim Christ to be the 
author of our salvation. It is also honoured when we pay a re- n, 
ligious attention to his Word, which announces to us his sove 
reign will ; make it the subject of our daily meditation ; and by 
reading or hearing it, study, according to our respective capa 
cities and conditions of life, to become acquainted with its 

256 Tlit, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

III. saving truths. Again, we honour and venerate the name of 
God when from a sense of religious duty we celebrate his 
praises, and under all circumstances, whether prosperous or 
adverse, return him unbounded thanks ; saying in the language 
of the prophet: " Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget 
all he hath done for thee." 1 Amongst the Psalms of David we 
have many, in which, animated with singular piety towards 
God, the Psalmist chants in sweetest strains the divine praises. 
We have also the admirable example of Job, who, when visited 
with the heaviest and most appalling calamities, never ceased, 
with lofty and unconquered soul, to give praise to God. When, 
therefore, we labour under affliction of mind or body ; when 
oppressed by misery and misfortune ; let us instantly direct all 
our thoughts, and all the powers of our souls, to the praises of 
God, saying with Job : " Blessed be the name of the Lord." 3 

IV. The name of God is not less honoured when we confidently 
invoke his assistance, either to relieve us from our afflictions, 
or to give us constancy and strength to endure them with forti 
tude. This is in accordance with his own wishes : " Call upon 
me," says he, " in the day of trouble : I will deliver thee, and 
thou shalt glorify me ;" 8 and we have illustrious examples of 
such supplications in the sixteenth, forty-third, and one hundred 
and eighteenth Psalms, and also in many other parts of Scrip- 

V. ture. Finally, we honour the name of God, when we solemnly 
call upon him to witness the truth of what we assert ; and this 
solemn appeal differs much from the means of honouring the 
divine name already enumerated. Those means are in their 
own nature so good, so desirable, that our lives, day and night, 
could not be more happily or more holily spent than in such 
practices of piety : " I will bless the Lord." says David, " at 

Oaths all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth :"* but with 
h ]i Uld hp re g al> d to oaths, although in themselves lawful, they should sel- 
taken. dom be used. The reason of this difference is, that oaths are 
constituted as remedies to human frailty, and a necessary means 
of establishing the truth of what we advance. As it is inexpe 
dient to have recourse to medicine, unless when it becomes ne 
cessary, and as its frequent use is most pernicious ; so, with 
regard to oaths, we should never recur to them, unless when 
there is weighty and just cause ; and a frequent recurrence to 
them, far from being advantageous, is on the contrary highly 
prejudicial. Hence the excellent observation of St. Chrysos- 
toine : " Oaths were introduced amongst men, not at the be 
ginning of the world, but long after ; when vice had overspread 
the earth ; when the moral world was convulsed to its centre, 
and universal confusion reigned throughout ; when, to complete 
the picture of human depravity, man debased the dignity of his 
nature by prostrating himself in degrading servitude to idols : 
then it was that God was appealed to as a witness of the truth, 
when, considering to what a height perfidy and wickedness had 

i Ps. cii. 1. 2 J b i. 21 . 3 Ps. xlix. 15. * Pa. xixiii. 2. 

On the Second Commandment. 25? 

risen, it was with difficulty that man could be induced to credit 
the assertion of his fellow-man." 1 

But as in explaining this part of the commandment our chief Different 
object is, to teach the faithful the conditions necessary to ren- SOI T S of 
der an oath reverential and holy, it is first to be observed, that a i. 
to swear, whatever the form of the oath may. be, is nothing else 
than to call God to witness: to say " God is my witness," and 
to swear by his holy name, are exactly the same. To swear II. 
by creatures, in order to gain credit for what we say, is an oath : 
to swear by the holy -Gospels, by the cross, by the names or 
relics of the saints, and all such solemn attestations, are also 
oaths. Of themselves, it is true, such objects give no weight or 
authority to an oath : its derives its obligation from God, whose 
divine majesty shines forth in them: and hence to swear by 
the Gospel is to swear by God himself, whose revealed word 
it is. This holds equally true with regard to those who swear 
by the saints, who are the temples of God, who believed the 
truth of his Gospel, were faithful to its dictates, and diffused its 
doctrines amongst the remotest nations of the earth. This is IIJ. 
also true of oaths uttered by way of execration, such as that of 
St. Paul : " I call G6d to witness upon my soul :" 3 by this 
form of oath we subject ourselves to God as the avenger of * 
falsehood. We do not, however, deny that some of these forms 
may be used without constituting an oath ; but even in such 
cases it will be found useful to observe what has been said with 
regard to an oath, and to direct and regulate such forms by the 
same rule and standard. 

Oaths are of two kinds, affirmatory and promissory : an oath Oaths are 
is affirmatory when, under its solemn sanction, we affirm any 
thing, past, present, or to come ; such as the affirmation of the 
Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians : " Behold ! before God, 
I lie not." 3 An oath is promissory when we promise the cer 
tain performance of any thing ; such as that of David, who 
swore to Bethsabee his wife, by the Lord his God, that Solo 
mon should be heir to his kingdom arid successor to his throne ;* 
and this class of oaths also includes comminations. 

But although to constitute an oath it is sufficient to call God Conditions 
to witness, yet to constitute a holy and just oath many other of * lawfu - 
conditions are required ; and these it is the duty of the pastor 
carefully to explain. The other conditions, as St. Jerome ob 
serves, 5 are briefly enumerated in these words of the prophet 
Jeremiah: "Thou shalt swear: as the Lord liveth, in truth 
and in judgment, and in justice ;" 6 words which briefly sum 
up all the conditions, which constitute the perfection of an oath 
truth, judgment, justice. 

Truth, then, holds the first place in an oath : what we swear Truth, 
must be true ; that is, he who swears must believe what he 
swears to be true, founding his conviction not upon rash grounds 

1 Ad. pop. Antioch. horn. 26- 2 2 Cor. i. 23. 3 Gal. i. 20. 

< 3 Kings i. 17. $ St. Hieron in hunc locum. t> Jerem. iv 2. 

22* 2 K 


The Catechism of the. Council of TJ ent. 

or vain conjecture, but upon motives of undoubted credibility 
Truth is a condition not less necessary, as is obvious, in a pro 
missory than in an affirmatory oath : he who promises must be 
disposed to perform and fulfil his promise at the appointed time. 
As no conscientious man will promise to do what he considers 
to be a violation of the commandments, and in opposition to the 
will of God ; so, having promised and sworn to do what is law 
ful, he will adhere with fidelity to the sacred and solemn en 
gagement ; unless, perhaps, change of circumstances should so 
alter the complexion of the case, that he could not stand to his 
promise without incurring the displeasure and enmity of God. 
That truth is necessary to a lawful oath David also declares, 
when, having asked who is worthy to sit in the tabernacle of 
the Most High, he answers : " He that sweareth to his neigh 
bour, and deceive th not." 1 

Judgment. The second condition is judgment : an oath is not to be taken 
rashly and inconsiderately, but after mature deliberation and calm 
reflection. When about to take an oath, therefore, we should 
first consider whether it be or be not necessary, and whether the 
case, if well weighed in all its circumstances, be of sufficient im 
portance to demand an oath. Many other circumstances of 
* time, place, &c. are also to be taken into consideration ; and in 
taking an oath we should never be influenced by love or hatred, 
or any other passion, but by the nature and necessity of the 
case. Without this calm and dispassionate consideration, an 
oath must be rash and hasty ; and of this character are the irre 
ligious affirmations of those, who, on the most unimportant and 
trifling occasions, swear from the influence of bad habit alone. 
This criminal abuse is but too prevalent amongst buyers and 
sellers, of whom the latter, to sell at the highest price, the 
former to purchase at the cheapest rate, make no scruple to 
strengthen with an oath, their praise or dispraise of the goods in 
question. Judgment and prudence therefore are necessary, and 
hence Pope Gelasius, a pontiff of eminent piety, decreed that 
an oath should not be administered to children before their four 
teenth year, because before that period their tender age is in 
competent to perceive so acutely, and to balance so accurately, 
the nice distinctions of things. 

Justice. The third and last condition of an oath is justice ; a condition 

which in promissory oaths demands particular attention. Hence, 
if a person swear to do what is unjust or unlawful, he sins by 
taking the oath, and adds sin to sin by executing his promise. 
Of this the Gospel supplies an example. Herod bound himself 
by oath to grant the request of Herodias, as a reward for the 
pleasure which she afforded him by dancing : she demanded the 
head of John the baptist; and Herod criminally adhered to the 
rash oath which he had sworn. 2 Such was also the oath taken 
by the Jews, who, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, bound 
themselves by oath not to eat, until they had shed the blood of 
Paul. 3 

i s. xiv. 4. 

2 Matt. xiv. 7. 

3 Acts xxiii. 12. 

On the Second Commandment. 259 

An oath therefore accompanied, and guarded as it were by An oath 
these conditions, is no doubt lawful, a position which is easily accompa- 
and satisfactorily established. The law of God, the purity and e ^on- 
sanctity of which will not be questioned, 1 not only permits but ditisaa^ 
commands such an oath to be taken : " Thou s halt fear the lawful - 
Lord thy God," says Moses, " and shalt serve him only, and 
thou shalt swear by his name:" 3 "All they," says David, II. 
" shall be praised that swear by him." 3 The inspired Volume m 
also informs us, that the Apostles, whose bright example it can 
not be unlawful for Christians to follow, sometimes made use 
of oaths : they are recorded in the Epistles of St. Paul.* Even IV 
the angels have sometimes sworn : " The angel," says St. 
John in his Apocalypse, " swore by him who lives for ever." 5 
In fine, God himself, the Lord of angels, has sworn, and, as we V. 
read in many passages of the Old Testament, has confirmed his 
promises with an oath. This he did to Abraham and to David ; 6 
and of the oath sworn by the Almighty David says : " The 
Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent : thou art a priest for 
ever according to the order of Melchisedech." 7 

To him who considers the matter attentively and in all its /I. 
bearings, its origin and its end, it can be no difficult matter to 
explain the reasons why the taking of an oath is not only law 
ful but even laudable. An oath has its origin in faith, by which 
we believe God to be the author of all truth, who cannot deceive 
or be deceived, " to whose eyes all things are naked and open," 8 
who, in fine, superintends in an admirable manner all human 
affairs, whose providence governs the world : imbued with this 
faith we appeal to God as a witness of the truth, to whom it 
were wicked and impious not to yield implicit belief. With 
regard to the end of an oath, its scope and intent is to establish 
the justice and innocence of man, and to terminate disputes and 
contests : this is the doctrine of St. Paul in his Epistle to the 
Hebrews. 9 Nor does this doctrine at all clash with these words Objectioa 
of the Redeemer, recorded in St. Matthew : " You have heard 
that it was said of old ; thou shalt not commit perjury, but thou 
shalt perform thy oaths to the Lord : but I say to you not to 
swear at all ; neither by heaven, because it is the throne of 
God ; neither by the earth, because it is the footstool of his 
feet; neither by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great 
king : neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst 
not make one hair white or black. Let your talk be yea, yea ; 
no, no ; and that which is over and above these is of evil." 10 
It cannot be asserted that these words condemn oaths universally Its solution, 
and under all circumstances : we have already seen that the 
Apostles and even our Lord himself swore frequently : the ob 
ject of the Redeemer was rather to reprove the perverse opinion 
of the Jews, which taught them to think that to justify the 

i Ps. xviii. 8. 2 ) eut . v j. 13. 3 p s . ] x ii 12 

4 2 Cor. i. 23. Philem. i. 8. 1 Thess. ii. 10. 5 Apoc. x. 6. 

Heb. vi. 17. Geri, xxii. 16. Exod. xxxjii. 1. 7 Ps. cix. 4. 

8 Heb. iv. 13. fl Heb. vi 16. ">MatL v. 3137. 


tion of the 
words of 
the Re 

part of the 

How vio- 
I. & II. 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

taking of an oath, its truth alone was sufficient. Hence even on 
the most trivial occasions they did not hesitate to make frequent 
use of oaths, and to exact them from others. This practice the 
Redeemer condemns and reprobates ; teaching that an oath is 
never to be taken, unless necessity require so solemn a pledge. 
Oaths have been instituted as remedies for human frailty ; and 
bespeaking, as it does, the inconstancy of him who takes, or 
the contumacy of him who exacts it, and who refuses to yield 
his assent without it, an oath has its source in the corruption 
of our nature, and can therefore be justified by necessity alone. 

But to explain the words of the Redeemer When our Lord 
says : " Let your speech be yea, yea ; no, no," 1 he evidently 
forbids the habit of swearing in familiar conversation and on 
trivial matters : he therefore admonishes us particularly against 
an habitual propensity to swearing ; and this admonition the 
pastor will impress deeply and repeatedly on the minds of the 
faithful. That countless evils grow out of the unrestrained 
habit of swearing is a melancholy truth supported by the 
evidence of Scripture, and the testimony of the Holy Fathers. 
Thus we read in Ecclesiasticus : " Let not thy mouth be accus 
tomed to swearing ; for in it there are many falls;" 2 and again : 
"A man that sweareth much shall be filled with iniquity, and a 
scourge shall not depart from his house." 3 In the works of St. 
Basil, and also in the treatise of St. Augustine against lying, 
the pastor will find abundant matter on this subject. 4 

Having hitherto explained the positive, we now come to 
explain the negative part of the commandment. By it we are 
forbidden to take the name of God in vain; and he who, not 
guided by prudent deliberation, but hurried on by rashness, 
dares to take an oath, is guilty of a grievous sin. This the very 
words of the commandment declare: " Thou shall not take the 
name of the Lord thy God in vain." In these words the Al 
mighty would seem to assign the reason why a rash oath is so 
grievous a crime : It derogates from the majesty of him whom 
we profess to recognise as our Lord and our God. This com 
mandment, therefore, forbids to swear falsely, because he who 
does not hesitate to appeal to God to witness falsehood, offers 
a grievous injury to the divine Majesty, charging him either 
with ignorance, as though the truth could be concealed from 
his all-seeing eye, or with injustice and depravity, as though 
the Eternal Truth could bear testimony to falsehood. 

Amongst false swearers are to be numbered not only those 
who affirm as true what they know to be false, but also those 
who swear to what is really true, believing it to be false. 5 The 
essence of a lie consists in speaking contrary to one s convic 
tion ; and such persons, therefore, as swear to what they be 
lieve to be false, are evidently guilty of a lie, and therefore of 
perjury. On the same principle, he who swears to that which 

1 Matt. y. 37. 2 Eccl. xiii. 9. 3 Eccl. xxiii. 12. 

4 Basil, in Psal. 14. ad heec verba : qui jurat proximo suo, et Aug. lib. de mendac 
c. 14. Vid. 12. q 2. c. primum est. 5 J^v xix 12 

On the Second Commandment. 261 

he thinks to be true, but which, although he swears according 
to his conviction, is really false, also incurs the guilt of perjury ; 
unless he has used moral diligence to arrive at the truth. He IV . 
who binds himself by oath to the performance of any thing, 
not intending to fulfil his promise, or having had the intention 
neglects its performance, is also guilty of perjury; and this j>j ote _ 
equally applies to those who, having bound themselves to God 
by vow, neglect its fulfilment. 

This commandment is also violated, if justice, which is one v 
of the three conditions of an oath, be wanting; and hence he 
who swears to commit a mortal sin, to perpetrate murder, for 
instance, violates this commandment, although he should have 
really intended to commit the crime, and his oath should have 
possessed what we before pointed out as a necessary condition 
of every oath, that is, truth. To these are to be added oaths V L 
sworn through a sort of contempt ; such as an oath ob 
serve the Evangelical counsels of celibacy and poverty. None, 
it is true, are obliged to embrace these counsels, but by swear 
ing to their non-observance, they are contemned and violated. 
This commandment is also sinned against, and the second con- VII. 
dition of an oath, which is "judgment," is violated by swear 
ing on slight grounds and mere conjecture, although what is 
sworn be true, and believed to be so by him who swears ; be 
cause, notwithstanding its truth, it still involves a sort of false 
hood ; for he who swears with such indifference exposes him 
self to extreme danger of perjury. To swear by false gods is VIII 
likewise to swear falsely : what more opposed to truth than to 
appeal to lying and false deities as to the true God ?* 

But as the Scripture, when it prohibits perjury, adds: "Thou IX 
shalt not profane the name of thy God," a it therefore prohibits 
all irreverence not only to his name, but also to those things to 
which, in accordance with this commandment, reverence is 
due ; such as the Word of God, the majesty of which has been 
recognised and revered not only by the pious, but also some 
times by the impious, as we read in Judges of Eglon, king of 
the Moabites. 3 But he who, to support heresy and impiety, 
wrests the Sacred Scriptures from their genuine and true mean 
ing, is guilty of the most flagrant irreverence towards the Divine 
Word; and of this we are admonished by these words of the 
prince of the Apostles: "There are some things hard to be un 
derstood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do 
also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." 4 It is X 
also a shameful irreverence of the .Scripture, to pervert the 
words and sentences which it contains, and which should be 
mentioned with due reverence, to some profane purpose, such 
as scurrility, fable, vanity, flattery, detraction, superstition, 
satire, and the like. Such profanation of the Divine Word the 
Council of Trent commands to be severely reprehended. 5 In 

1 Vid. Aug. epist. 54. 2 Lev. xix. 12. J Judges iii. 20. 

1 Pet. iii. 1C. 5 Sess. 4. in line. 

262 77/e Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

XL the next place, as they who under severe affliction implore the 
assistance of God, so they, who invoke not his aid, deny him 
due honour ; and these David rebukes when he says : " They 
have not called upon the Lord, they trembled for fear where 
XII. there was no fear." 1 Still more enormous is the guilt of those 
who, with impure and impious lips, dare to curse or blaspheme 
the holy name of God, that name which is to be blessed and 
praised above measure by all his creatures, or even the names 
of the Saints who reign with him in glory. Shuddering, as it 
were, at its very mention, the Sacred Scriptures sometimes ex 
press the crime of which they are guilty, by the word " bene 
diction." 3 

Sanction As, however, the dread of punishment has often a powerful 
ofthispre- effect in checking the licentiousness of crime, the pastor, in 
order the more effectually to excite, and the more easily to 
induce to an observance of this commandment, will diligently 
explain the remaining words, which are, as it were, its ap 
pendix, and which run thus ; " FOR THE LORD WILL NOT HOLD 


Its wisdom In the first place the pastor will teach, that in the annexation 

to be dove- O f threats to the violation of this commandment reason discovers 

thiTjjastor. the wisest ends : it demonstrates at once the grievousness of 

I- sin and the goodness displayed in our regard by a beneficent 

God, who, far from desiring the death of the sinner, deters by 

these salutary threats from incurring his severity, doubtless in 

order that we may experience his kindness rather than his 

anger. The pastor will urge this consideration, a consideration 

to be dwelt on with indefatigable earnestness, in order that the 

faithful may be made sensible of the grievousness of the crime, 

may detest it still more, and may employ increased care and 

caution to avoid its commission. 

jl He will also observe how prone Christians are to this sin, 

since God has not only issued a command for its prevention, 
but has also enforced this command by so severe a sanction. 
The advantages to be derived from this consideration are indeed 
incredible : as nothing is more injurious than a listless security, 
so the knowledge of our own weakness is attended with the 
HI. most salutary consequences. He will next observe that the 
punishment, which awaits the violation of this commandment, 
is not fixed and determinate ; the threat is general : it declares 
that he who is guilty of the violation shall not escape unpunish 
ed. The chastisements,, therefore, with which we are every 
day visited, should impress upon our minds the enormity of 
this crime. They admonish us, in language the most intelligible, 
that the violation of this commandment cannot pass with im 
punity ; that the heaviest punishments will overtake him who 
profanes the name of God ; a consideration which it is hoped 
must excite to future vigilance. 

\ -, Ps. xiii. 5. et liii. 26. 2 3 Kings xxi. 13. Job i. 11. et ii. 9. * Exod. xx. 1. 

On the Third Commandment. 263 

Deterred therefore by a holy and salutary dread, the fafthful Practical 
should use every exertion to avoid the violation of this com- conclusion 
mandment : if " for every idle word that men shall speak, they 
shall render an account on the day of judgment;" 1 how severe 
the account which they shall have to render, whose crime in 
volves the awful guilt of contemning the name of the Eternal 



THIS commandment, as is required by the natural order, pre- What tins 
scribes the external worship which is due to God, and is, as it me ntpre- 
were, a consectary of the preceding commandment. If we sin- scribes, 
cerely and devoutly yield internal worship to God, guided by 
the faith and hope we have in him, we cannot but honour him 
with external worship and thanksgiving : 3 this duty we cannot 
easily discharge whilst occupied in worldly affairs ; and hence 
the necessity of appointing a fixed time for its performance. 
As, therefore, this commandment, if duly observed, is produc- rm P r t-.. 
live of much fruit, it is of the highest importance that the pastor exposition, 
use the utmost diligence in its exposition. The word " Re 
member," with which the commandment commences, must 
animate him to the zealous performance of this duty: if the 
faithful are commanded to " remember" this commandment, it 
becomes the duty of the pastor to recall it frequently to their 

The importance of its observance may be inferred from the andobserv- 
consideration, that a faithful compliance with its injunctions 
facilitates the observance of all the other commandments. 
Amongst the other works of piety by which the Sabbath is to 
be sanctified, the faithful are bound to assemble in the Church 

Matt. xii. 3G. 2 xod. xx. 8. 

3 Vid. Trid. decret. de ciborum delectu et festis diebus, sess. ult. sub finem. 
Item D. Thorn, 2. 2. q. 122. art. 4. item de consecrat. dist. 3. multis capitib. 


Tlie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 


to hear the divine word : when they have thus learned the jus 
tifications of the Lord, they will be prompted to the faithful and 
willing observance of his holy Law. Hence the sanctification 
of the Sabbath is very of .en enforced in Scripture, as may be 
seen in Exodus, 1 Leviticus, 2 Deuteronomy, 3 and in the prophe 
cies of Isaias, 4 Jeremiah, 5 and Ezekiel, 8 all of which contain 
this precept which commands the observance of the Sabbath. 7 
Princes and magistrates are to be admonished and exhorted to 
lend the sanction and support of their authority to the pastors 
of the Church, particularly in upholding and extending the 
worship of God, and in commanding obedience to the spiritual 
injunctions of the pastor. 
Its exposi- With regard to the exposition of this commandment, the 

n ^ n ;- m rr faithful are to be carefully taught in what it accords with, and 

whatitdif- . t . .. -.-re c A i i e 

iers from m what it differs from the others, in order that they may under- 

the other stand why Christians observe not the Sabbath, but the Lord s- 
^ a ^ ^ e P oint f difference is evident : the other command 
ments of the Decalogue are precepts of the natural law, obli 
gatory at all times and unalterable, and hence, after the abroga 
tion of the Law of Moses, all the commandments contained in 
the two tables are observed by Christians, not however because 
their observance is commanded by Moses, but because they 
accord with the law of nature and are enforced by its dictate : 
whereas this commandment, if considered as to the time of its 
fulfilment, is not fixed and unalterable, but is susceptible of 
change, and belongs not to the moral but ceremonial Law. 
Neither is it a principle of the natural law: we are not in 
structed by the natural law to worship God on the Sabbath, 
rather than on any other day. The Sabbath was kept holy 
from the time of the liberation of the people of Israel from 
the bondage of Pharaoh : the obligation was to cease with the 
abrogation of the Jewish worship, of which it formed a part ; 
and it therefore was no longer obligatory after the death of 
Christ. Having been, as it were, images which shadowed the 
light and the truth, these ceremonies were to disappear at the 
coming of that light and truth, which is Christ Jesus. Hence 
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, when reproving the 
observers of the Mosaic rites, says: "you observe days and 
months and times and years ; I am afraid of you lest perhaps 
I have laboured in vain amongst you ;" 8 sentiments which are 
also to be found in his Epistle to the Colossians. 9 On the dif 
ference between this and the other commandments these ob 
servations will suffice. 

In what it As to their accordance, it consists not in rites and ceremonies, 

agreeswith b u t j n as muc h as this commandment, in common with the 

others, expresses a moral obligation, founded on the law of 

nature. The worship of God and the practice of religion, 

Exod. xvi. 20. 31. 2 Lev. xvi. 19. 23. 26. 3 Dent. v. 

Isa. Ivi. 58. 66. 5 Jerem. 17. Ezek. xx. 22, 23. 46. 

7 De procd. verb. Dei, vid. Trid. sess. 5. c. 2. vide et singulare hac de re libellum 
S Caroli Borrom in actis Eccles. Mediol. vide etiarn acta eccles. Bononiens. 
sGalat. iv. 10. 9 Col. ii. 16. 

On the Third Commandment. 265 

which it comprises, have the natural law for their basis : the 
unbidden impulse of nature prompts us to give some time to 
the worship of God ; and this is a truth demonstrated by the 
unanimous consent of all nations, who, accordingly, consecrated 
festivals to the public solemnities of religion. As nature re- An illus- 
quires some time to be given to necessary relaxation, to sleep, iration. 
and to the repose and refreshment of the body ; so she also 
requires, that some time be devoted to the inind, to refresh and 
invigorate its energies by heavenly contemplation. Hence the 
necessity of consecrating some time to the worship of the 
Deity and to the practice of religion, duties which, doubtless, 
form part of the moral law. The Apostles therefore resolved to The Jew- 
consecrate the first day of the week to the divine worship, {^f^,,, 
and called it " the Lord s-day :" St. John in his Apocalypse and by * 
makes mention of " the Lord s-day ;"* and the Apostle com- whom 
mands collections to be made*" on the first day of the week," 3 
that is, according to the interpretation of St. Chrysostome, on day. 
the Lord s-day; and thus we are given to understand that 
even then the Lord s-day was kept holy in the church. 

In order that the faithful may know what they are to do, This com- 
what to avoid, on the Lord s-day, it will not be found foreign J^"^"* 
to his purpose, if the pastor, dividing the commandment into into four 
four parts, explain each part with minute accuracy. In the P arts - 
first place, then, he will explain generally the meaning of 
these words : " Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath 
day." The word " remember" is appropriately made use of 
at the beginning of the commandment, to signify that the sanc- 
tification of that particular day belonged to the ceremonial 
law. Of this it would seem to have been necessary to ad 
monish the people, for, although the law of nature commands 
us to give religious worship to God, it fixes no particular day 
for the performance of that duty. They are also to be taught, n> 
that from these words we may learn how we should employ 
our time during the week ; that we are to keep constantly in 
view the Lord s-day, on which we are, as it were, to render an 
account to God for the manner in which we have spent the 
week : and that therefore our occupations and conduct should 
be such as not to be unacceptable in the sight of God, or, as it 
is written, be to us " an occasion of grief, and a scruple of 
heart." 3 Finally, we are taught, and the instruction demands HI. 
our serious attention, that there are but too many circum 
stances which may lead to a forgetfulness of this commandment, 
such as the evil example of others who neglect its observance, 
and an inordinate love of amusements, which frequently with 
draw from the holy and religious observance of the Lord s-day. 

We now come to the meaning of the word " Sabbath." 

1 Apoc. i. 10. 

2 Chrysost. horn. 13. in Corinth. Amb. item etTheophylact vid. etiam. Can. Apost. 
t. 67. Igriat Epist ad Magnes. Just. apol. 2. Tertul. in apol. e. 16. et de Coron. 
milit. c. 3. et de idol. c. 14. et Cyp. epist. 33. Clement. Alex. lib. 5. Strom, satis ante 
finem. Orig. horn. 7. in Exod- 3 ] Kings xxv. 31. 

23 2 L 


of the 
" Sabbath." 

tion of the 

The true 
meaning of 
the pre 

part of the 
ment: its 

The Sab 
bath why 
fixed for 
the divine 

Its mystic 




The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Sabbath is a Hebrew word : it signifies cessation ; to keep the 
Sabbath, therefore, means to cease from labour ; and in this 
sense the seventh day was called the " Sabbath," (it is so 
called by God in Exodus) because, having finished the creation 
of the world, God rested from all the work which he had 
done. 1 Not only the seventh day, but, in honour of that day, 
the entire week was subsequently called "the Sabbath;" and 
in this meaning of the word, the Pharisee says in St. Luke : 
" I fast twice in a Sabbath." 3 Thus much will suffice with 
regard to the signification of the word " Sabbath." 

In the words of the commandment, the sanctification of the 
Sabbath is a cessation from bodily labour and worldly business, 
as is clear from the following words : " Thou shalt do no work 
on it." This alone, however, does not comprise the meaning 
of the commandment: if it did, it would have been sufficient 
to say in Deuteronomy, "observe the day of the Sabbath;" 3 
but it is added, " and sanctify it ;" and these additional words 
prove that the Sabbath is a day sacred to religion, set apart for 
works of piety and exercises of devotion. The Sabbath, there 
fore, we sanctify by devoting it to duties of piety and religion ; 
and this is evidently the Sabbath, which Isaias calls " delight 
ful ;"* when thus spent, it is the delight of God and of his 
faithful servants. If then to this religious and holy observance 
of the Sabbath we add works of mercy, the rewards proposed 
to our piety in the same chapter are numerous and most im 
portant. 5 The true and proper meaning, therefore, of this 
commandment tends to this, that we take special care to set 
apart some fixed time, when, disengaged from bodily labour, 
and undisturbed by worldly cares, we may devote our Avhole 
being, soul and body, to the religious worship of God. 

The other part of the precept declares that the seventh day 
was consecrated by Almighty God to his worship : " Six days," 
says he, " shalt thou labour, and do all thy works ;" but on 
" the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God ;" that is 
to say, the Sabbath is consecrated to the Lord, and on that day 
we are to render him the duties of religion, and to know that 
the seventh day is a sign of his rest. The Sabbath was conse 
crated to the worship of God, because it must have proved in 
convenient to leave to a rude people the choice of a time of 
worship, lest, perhaps, they may be led to imitate the idolatrous 
rites of Egypt. The seventh day was, therefore, chosen for 
the worship of God, and its dedication to that end is replete 
with mystery. Hence in Exodus, 6 and in Ezekiel 7 the Lord 
calls it "a sign:" "I gave them," says he, " my Sabbaths to 
be a sign between me and them ; and that they might know 
that I am the Lord that sanctify them." 8 It was a sign that 
man should dedicate and consecrate himself to God, whereas 
even the very day is dedicated and consecrated to him: it is 

1 Gen. ii. 3. Exod. xx. 21. Deut. v. 12. 2 Luke xyiii. 12. 3 Deut. v. 12. 
4 Isa. Iviii. 13. s Isa. Iviii. 6. 6 Exod. xxxi. 13. 

7 Ezek. xx. 12. 8 Deut. v. 15. 

On the Third Commandment. 267 

holy because devoted in a special manner to holiness and to re 
ligion. It was also a sign, and, as it were, a memorial, of the 
stupendous work of the creation. To the Jews it was also a III 
traditional sign, reminding them that they had been delivered 
by the hand of God from the galling yoke of Egyptian bondage. 
This the Almighty himself declares in these words : " Remember 
that thou also didst serve in Egypt, and the Lord thy God 
brought thee out from thence with a strong hand and a stretched 
out arm. Therefore hath he commanded thee that thou shouldst 
observe the Sabbath day." 

It is also a sign of the spiritual and celestial Sabbath. The The spirit- 
spiritual Sabbath consists in a holy and mystical rest, wherein u a !if. a t 
the old man, being buried with Christ, is renewed to life, and meaning, 
studies to act in accordance with the spirit of Christian piety : 
" you were, therefore, darkness," says the Apostle, " but now 
light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light ; for the 
fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice and truth, having 
no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." 1 The The celes- 
celestial Sabbath, as St. Cyril observes on these words of the u ia ! h S . ab t ~ a 
Apostle, " There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people meaning. 
of God," a 3 is that life which we shall enjoy with Christ, in the 
fruition of all good, when sin shall be no more, according to 
these words of Isaias : " No lion shall be there, nor shall any 
mischievous beast go it, nor be found there ; but a path and a 
way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way;" 4 for 
the souls of the saints enjoy the plenitude of happiness in the 
vision of God. The pastor therefore will exhort and animate 
the faithful in the words of the Apostle : " Let us hasten there 
fore to enter into that rest." 5 

Besides the Sabbath, the Jews observed other festivals which other fe 
were instituted by the divine law, and the end and aim of which tivals ob- 
was to awaken in the people the recollection of the principal 
favours conferred on them by the Almighty. On these festivals 
the pastor will see Leviticus, 6 Numbers, 7 and Deuteronomy ; 8 
and on the moral objects contemplated in the institution of such 
festivals, he may also consult St. Cyril," and St. Thomas. 10 

But the Church of God has in her wisdom ordained that the The Sab- 
celebration of the Sabbath should be transferred to " the Lord s- b j* th wl jy 
day:" as on that day light first shone on the world, so by the to^the 
resurrection of our Lord on the same day, by whom was thrown Lord s- 
open to us the gate to eternal life, AVC were called out of dark- da y- j 
ness into light ; and hence the Apostle would have it called 
"the Lord s-day." We also learn from the sacred Volume that II. 
the first day of the week was held sacred for other reasons : 
on that day the work of the creation commenced, and on that 
day the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles. From the 

i Eph. v. 8. 2 St. Cyril. Lat. lib. 4. in Joan. c. 51. 3 Heb. iv. 9. 

i Isa. xxxv. 9. 5 Heb. iv. 11. 6 Levit. xxiii 

7 Num. xxix. s Deut. yi. 

9 Cyril, de adoratione in spiritu et verit. lib. 17. 

10 U. Thorn. 1. 2. q. 102. art. 4. ad 10. 

268 The Catechism of the Council of Titnt. 

Other fes- very infancy of the church other days were also appointed 
instkuted^ ^7 tne Apostles, and by their successors in after-times, to be 
their order, kept holy, in order to commemorate the special gifts bestowed 
on us Christians. Amongst these days the most conspicuous 
are those which were instituted to honour the mysteries of our 
redemption, and next to them, those which are dedicated to the 
most blessed Virgin Mother, to the Apostles, Martyrs and other 
Saints who reign with Christ, and in the celebration of whose 
victories the divine power and goodness, which triumphed in 
them are praised, due honour is paid to their memories, and the 
faithful are excited to the imitation of their virtues. 

Sloth and And as the observance of the precept is very strongly en- 
condemn* ^ orce ^ in tnese wortl s : " Six days shall thou labour, and shalt 
ed : no do all thy works ; but on the seventh day is the Sabbath of the 
serv u e \ Lord l hy God ;" the pastor should therefore carefully explain 
deferred to ^ iem to tne P eo pl e - They implicitly admonish him that the 
the Lord s- faithful are to be exhorted not to waste their lives in indolence 
and sloth, but mindful of the words of the Apostle, and in ac 
cordance with his command, " do their own business, and work 
with their own hands." 1 These words also enjoin as a duty 
that " in six days we do all our works," and admonish us not 
to defer to the Sunday or holiday what should have been done 
during the other days of the week, and what if deferred must 
withdraw our attention from the sanctification of the Sabbath. 
The third The third part of the commandment comes next to be ex- 
part of the pl a i n ed. It points out, to a certain extent, the manner in which 
command- l 111^1111 i i 

ment, what vve are to keep holy the Sabbath day, and explains particularly 

it prohibits, what is prohibited to be done on that day : " Thou shalt do 
no work on it," says the Lord, "thou, nor thy son, nor thy 
daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy 

I. beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates." These words 
teach us, in the first place, to avoid whatever may interfere with 
the worship of God on the Sabbath day ; and hence it is not 
difficult to perceive that all servile works are forbidden, not be 
cause they are improper or evil in themselves, but because they 
withdraw from the worship of God, which is the great end of 

II. the commandment. The faithful should be still more careful 
not to profane the Sabbath by sin, which not only withdraws 
the mind from the contemplation of divine things, but entirely 

What it alienates us from the love of God. 3 But whatever regards the 
permits. celebration of divine worship, such as the decoration of the altar 
or church on occasion of some festival, and the like, although 
servile works, are not prohibited ; and hence our Lord himself 
says : " The priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are 
[I. without blame." 3 Neither are we to suppose that this com 
mandment forbids attention to those things on the Sabbath, 
which if neglected on that day perish to the proprietor. Their 
preservation is no violation of the commandment, and is ex- 

1 1 Thess. iv. 11. 

2 Vid. Aug. tract. 3. in Joan, et in Ps. xxxi. serm. 1. et lib. de decem chordis c. 3. 

3 Matt xii. 5. 

On the Third Commandment 269 

pressly permitted by the sacred canons. There are many other 
things which our Lord declares lawful to be done on Sundays 
and holydays, and which may be seen by the pastor in St. 
Matthew and St. John. 

But to omit nothing that may interfere with the sanctification Cattle not 
of the Sabbath, cattle are mentioned in the commandment, be- l " be f m " 

i i tr. i , ployed on 

cause their use must prevent its due observance. If cattle be the" Sab- 
employed on the Sabbath, human labour also becomes necessary : bath ; and 
they do not labour alone, but assist the labours of man. The y 
prohibition of the employment of cattle is therefore a conse 
quence of the prohibition of human labour; they are correllative ; 
one supposes the other. If then God commands the exemption 
of cattle from labour on the Sabbath, still more imperative is 
the obligation to avoid all acts of inhumanity towards servants, 
or others whose labour and industry we employ in our service. 

The pastor should also not omit to inform the faithful how Sundays 
they are to sanctify Sundays and holydays ; and amongst other *} nd h , oly " 

i_ -11 P i i T n days how 

means he will not iorget to mention the obligation of visiting to be sanc- 
the temple of God, and there, with heartfelt piety and devotion, tified - 
assisting at the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Mass i 1 
and also the duty of approaching frequently the sacraments of Jl. 
the Church, instituted for our sanctification and salvation, to 
heal our spiritual maladies. 3 Nothing can be more seasonable III. 
or salutary than frequent recourse to the tribunal of penance ; 
and to this the pastor will be enabled to exhort the faithful by 
recurring to what we have already said in its proper place on 
the sacrament of penance. But not only will he excite his 
people to have recourse to the sacrament of penance he will IV. 
also zealously exhort them again and again, to approach fre 
quently the holy sacrament of the Eucharist. Sermons are also V". 
in those days to be heard by the faithful with attention and 
reverence nothing is more intolerable, nothing more unworthy 
of a Christian than to despise the words of Christ, or hear them 
with indifference. 3 Devout prayer and the praises of God should VI. 
also frequently exercise the piety of the faithful on Sundays and 
holydays ; and an object of their special attention should be to VII 
attend particularly to catechetical instruction, in order to learn VIII 
those things which form to a Christian life ; and to practise 
with assiduity these duties of Christian piety, viz. giving alms IX. 
to the poor, visiting the sick, administering consolation to the 
afflicted. " Religion clear and undefiled before God and the 
Father is this," says St. James, " to visit the fatherless and 
widows in their tribulation." 4 

From what has been said it is easy to perceive, how this Reason 
commandment may be violated: but the pastor will also deem ableness f 

1 Cone. Agath. c. 47. Aurel. c. 8. Tribur. c. 35. Vide de cons. dist. 1. cap. Mis- 
as. et cum ad celebrandas, et omnes fideles. 

2 Aug. de Eccl. dogm. c. 53. et citatur de cons. dist. 2. c. quotidien. 

3 Justin. Apol. 2. et ex Act Apost. c. 20. 7. Aug. lib. 50. horn. 26. et cit. 1. q. lib. 
cap. interroga. 

4 James i. 27. Sic faciebant veteres Christian!, test. Just. Apol. 2. Tertull. in 
A.pol. et in lib. ad martyres et in lib. 2. ad uxorem prope finem. 


270 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

this rom- it a duty to impress on the minds of the faithful the conviction, 
aianament ^^ t ^- g comman( ] men t, i s to be observed with pious zeal and 
the greatest exactitude. To the attainment of this end it will 
materially conduce, if he make them understand and see clearly, 
how just and reasonable it is to devote certain days, exclusively, 
to the worship of God, to acknowledge, adore, and venerate 
him from whom we have received such innumerable and inesti- 
Note. mable blessings. Had God commanded us to offer him, on 
each day of our lives, the tribute of religious worship, would it 
not be our duty, in return for the inestimable and infinite bene 
fits which his bounty has showered on us, to endeavour to obey 
the command with promptitude and alacrity ? But now that 
the days specially consecrated to his service are but few in 
number, is it not as unreasonable as it is criminal to neglect so 
sacred a duty, or to discharge it with reluctance ?* 

Importance The pastor will next point out the importance of a faithful 
ui its obser- compliance with this precept. Those who are faithful in its 

\ance. . . . .... 

I. observance are admitted, as it were, into the divine presence, to 
commune freely with God ; for in prayer we contemplate the 
increated majesty, and hold free converse with the Deity ; in 
hearing religious instruction, we hear the voice of God, which 
reaches us through that of his pious and zealous minister ; and 
at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we adore Christ the Lord, 
present on our altars. These are amongst the spiritual advan 
tages, of which a faithful compliance with this commandment 

n. is the pure and plenteous source. But those, who altogether 
neglect its fulfilment, resist God and his Church : they are ene 
mies of God and of his holy laws ; and the facility with which 
the commandment may be fulfilled is at once a proof and an 
aggravation of their guilt. We should, it is true, be prepared 
to undergo the severest labour for sake of God ; but in this 
commandment he imposes on us no labour; he only commands 
us to disengage ourselves from worldly cares on those days 
which are to be kept holy. To refuse obedience to this com 
mandment is, therefore, a proof of extreme temerity ; and the 
punishments with which its infraction has been visited should 
be a salutary admonition to Christians. 3 

Note In order, therefore, to avoid this guilt and these punishments, 

we should frequently ponder this word : " Remember," and 
place before us the important advantages, which, as we have 
already seen, flow from the religious observance of Sundays and 
holydays, and also numerous other considerations of the same 
tendency, which the good and zealous pastor will develope at 
large to his people as circumstances may require. 

1 Vid. de consecr. disk 1. et in decret. Titul. de feriis et Cone. Matisc. 2. c. 1. et 
37. Tribur. c. 35. Ignat. in p. ad Philip. Leon. serm. 3. de quadrag. Aug. serm. 
151. de temp. 2 Num. xv. 32. et seq. 

On the Fourth Commandment. 271 



THE preceding commandments, having God as their imme- Accord- 
diate end, take precedence in order as well as in dignity and iththe 
importance ; but those which follow, although ultimately referred preceding 
to God as the end contemplated in the love of our neighbour, command- 
have for their immediate object to instruct us in the duty of " 
loving our neighbour, and, therefore, deservedly hold the next 
place. Hence our Lord himself has declared, that these two 
commandments, which inculcate the love of God and of our 
neighbour, are like unto each other. 3 The advantages arising 
from a faithful observance of this commandment can scarcely 
be expressed in words, bringing with it, as it does, not only its 
own fruit, and that in the richest abundance and of superior 
excellence, but also affording a test of the sincerity of our love 
for God : " He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth," 
says St. John, "how can he love God whom he seeth not?" 3 
In like manner, if we do not honour and reverence our parents 
whom we see, how can we honour or reverence God, the su 
preme and best of parents, whom we see not ? and hence the 
obvious analogy and accordance of both commandments. 

The application of this commandment is of very great lati- Extent of 
tude : besides our natural parents, there are many others whose }- on lppllc * 
power, rank, usefulness, exalted functions, or office, entitle 
them to parental honour. It also lightens the labour of parents 
and superiors : amongst the duties which devolve on them, 
the principal one is to mould the lives of those who are placed 
under their care, according to the maxims of the divine law , 
and the performance of this duty must be considerably fa 
cilitated, if it be universally felt, that to honour parents is an 
obligation, sanctioned and commanded by no less an authority 
than that of God himself. To impress the mind with this 
truth, it will be found useful to distinguish the commandments 
of the first from those of the second table. This distinction, 
therefore, the pastor will first explain, and will accordingly 
teach that the divine precepts of the Decalogue were written 
on two tables, one of which, in the opinion of the Holy 
Fathers, contained the three preceding, the other the remain- 

1 Exod. xx. 12. 

2 Matt. xxii. 39. Mark xii. 31. Vid. Aug. in Ps. xxxii. serm. 1. item lib. 3. de 
doctrin. Christ, c. 10. ct lib. 50. horn. 38. D. Thorn. 2. 2. quoest. 17. art. 8. 

3 1 John iv. 20. 

272 TJie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Note. ing seven commandments of the Decalogue. 1 This order ot 
the commandments is very apposite, for by it their nature and 
object are also distinguished : whatever is commanded or pro 
hibited in Scripture by the divine law springs from one of two 
principles, the love of God or of our neighbour : and in the 
discharge of every duty we must be actuated by this love. 
The three preceding commandments teach us the love which 
we owe to God, and the other seven, the duties which we owe 
to domestic and public society. The distinction, therefore, 
which refers some to the first, others to the second table, is not 
without good ground : in the three first, God, the supreme 
good, is, as it were, the subject matter, in the others, the good 
of our neighbour : the first propose the supreme, the others 
the proximate object of our love: the first regard the ultimate 
end, the others those duties which refer to that end. 3 

Difference Again, the love of God terminates in God himself, for God 

between j s to ^e loved above all things for his own sake ; but the 
the com- , ,, . , , . . . , . , - , 

mand- J ve of our neighbour originates in, and is to be referred 

mentsof to, the love of God. If we love our parents, obey our masters, 
and Second res P ect our superiors, our ruling principle in doing so should 
tables. be, that God is their Creator, and wishes to give pre-eminence 
to those by whose co-operation he governs and protects all 
others ; and as he requires that we yield a dutiful respect to 
such persons, we should do so, because he deems them worthy 
of this honour. If then we honour our parents, the tribute is 
paid to God rather than to man ; and accordingly we read in 
the tenth chapter of St. Matthew, which, amongst other mat 
ters, treats also of duty to superiors ; " He that receiveth you, 
receiveth me ;" 3 and the Apostle in his Epistle to the Ephe- 
sians, giving instruction to servants, says: "Servants, be obe 
dient to them that are your lords according to the flesh, with 
fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to 
Christ: not serving to the eye, as it were pleasing men, but 
as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the 
heart." 4 

II. Moreover, no honour, no piety, no devotion can be rendered 

to God, worthy of him towards whom love admits of infinite 
increase, and hence our charity should become every day more 
fervent towards him, who commands us to love him " with our 
Note. whole heart, our whole soul, and with all our strength :" 5 but 
the love of our neighbour has its limits, for we are commanded 
to love our neighbour as ourselves ; and to outstep these limits, 
by loving him as we love God, were a crime of the blackest 
enormity. "If any man come tome," says our Lord, "and 
hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and 

Vid. Clem. Alexan. lib. 6. Strom, satis ante finem, Aug. in Exod. q. 71. D. 
Thorn. 1.2. q. 100. art. 4. 

2 Vid Aug. in Ps. xxxii. serm. 1. D. Thorn. 2. 2.q. 122. art. I et 2. et in opusc 
7. cap. de primo preecepto. 3 Matt x. 40. 

Ephes. vi. 5, 6. Vid. Aug. lib. 3. de doct. Christ, c. 12. et lib. 4. Conf. c. 9 
12. Prosper, lib. 3. de vita contempl. c. 13. Bernard, de diligendo Deo. 

s Dent. vi. 5. Luke x. 27. Matt. xxii. 3739. 

On the Fourth Commandment. 273 

brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also ; he cannot be 
my disciple." 1 To him who would first attend the burial of 
his father, and then follow Christ, our Lord says, to the same 
effect ; " Let the dead bury their dead ;" a and the same lesson 
of instruction is more clearly conveyed in these words of St. 
Matthew : " He that loveth father or mother more than me, is 
not worthy of me." 3 Parents, no doubt, are to be affectionately 
loved, and highly respected ; but religion requires that supreme 
honour and homage be given to him alone, who is the sove 
reign Creator, and universal Father, and that our love for our 
parents be referred to our eternal Father who is in heaven. 
Should, however, the injunctions of parents be at any time Note, 
opposed to the commandments of God, children, are, of course, 
to prefer the will of God to the desires of their parents, always 
keeping in view the divine maxim : " We ought to obey God 
rather than men."* 

Having premised this exposition, the pastor will proceed to ex- TO "ho- 
plain the words of the commandment, beginning with " honour." nour," 
To " honour" is to think respectfully of any one, and, in every m 
relation in which he may be considered, to hold him in the 
highest estimation. It includes love, respect, obedience, and 
reverence, and is here used with great propriety in preference 
to the word " fear" or " love ;" although parents are also to 
be much loved and feared. Respect and reverence are not 
always the accompaniments of love, neither is love the insepa 
rable companion of fear ; but honour, when proceeding from 
the heart, combines both fear and love. 

The pastor will next explain who they are, whom the com- Whom the 
mandment designates as fathers : for although it refers pri- 
marily to our natural fathers, yet the word has a secondary 
meaning; and, a matter at which we have already glanced, Fathers, 
includes, as we know from numerous passages of Scripture, 
many others who are also entitled to due honour. In the first I. 
place, the prelates of the Church, her pastors and clergy, are 
called fathers, after the example of the Apostle : " I write not 
these things," says he, " to confound you ; but I admonish 
you as my dearest children : for if you have ten thousand in- 
structers in Christ ; yet not many fathers ; for in Christ Jesus 
by the Gospel I have begotten you." 5 We also read in EC- n. 
clesiasticus : "Let us praise men of renown, and our fathers in 
their generation." 6 Those who govern the state, to whom are Hi- 
intrusted power, magistracy, or empire, are also called fathers ; 
thus Naaman was called father by his servants. 7 To those, to IV 
whose care, fidelity, probity and wisdom, others are committed, 
such as pastors, instructers, masters, and guardians, is also given 
the name of father ; and hence the sons of the prophets called 
Elias 8 and Eliseus 9 by this name. Finally, aged men, whose v. 
years entitle them to our respect, we also call fathers. In the 

i Luke xiv. 26. 2 Luke ix. 00. 3 Matt. x. 37. Act v. 29. 

, Cor. iv. 14 1C. Eccl. xliv. 1. 4 Kings v. 13 s4 Kings ii 12. 

y 4 Kings xiii. 14. 


274 The. Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

Note. instructions of the pastor, however, it will not be forgotten to 
enforce particularly the obligation we are under, of honouring 
all who are entitled to be denominated fathers, especially our 
natural fathers, of whom the divine commandment particularly 
speaks. They are, as it were, representatives of the one, great, 
immortal, and universal Father : in them we behold the image 
of our own origin : from them AVC have received existence : 
them God made use of to impart to us the soul with all its 
faculties : by them we have been conducted to the sacraments, 
formed to society, blessed with education, and instructed in 
purity and holiness of life. 1 

Mothers to The pastor will teach that the name of" mother" is also men- 
beloved tioned in this commandment, and with good reason, awakening 
nouredf * n us i as ^ does, a grateful recollection of the benefits which we 
have received from her ; of the claims which she has to our 
dutiful affection ; of the care and solicitude with which she bore 
us, the pain and travail with which she brought us forth, and 
the labour and anxiety with which she watched over our infant 

Nature of Moreover, the honour which children are commanded to pay 
the honour to their parents should be the spontaneous offering of sincere 
rents ^ an ^ dutiful love. This respectful regard they challenge upon 
I. the strongest titles they who, for love of us, decline no labour, 
spare no exertion, shrink from no danger ; whose highest plea 
sure it is to indulge in the reflection that they are beloved by 
their children, the dear objects of their parental solicitude and 
affection. Joseph, when next to majesty, he enjoyed in Egypt 
the highest station, and the most ample power, received his 
father with honour, when he went down into Egypt ; 3 Solomon 
rose to meet his mother as she approached ; and having paid 
her the tribute of filial respect, placed her on a royal throne on 
his right hand. 3 

H. We also owe to our parents other duties of respect, such as 

to supplicate God in their behalf, that they may lead prosperous 
and happy lives, beloved and esteemed by all who know them, 
HI. and most pleasing in the sight of God and of his saints. We also 
honour them by submission to their wishes and inclinations : 
"My son," says Solomon, "hear the instruction of thy father, 
and forsake not the law of thy mother ; that grace may be added 
to thy head, and a chain of gold to thy neck." 4 " Children," 
says St. Paul, " obey your parents in the Lord, for this is 
just;" 5 and also, "children, obey your parents in all things, 
for this is well-pleasing to the Lord." 8 This doctrine is con 
firmed by the example of those who were most eminent for 
sanctity : Isaac, when bound for sacrifice by his father, meekly 
obeyed ; 7 and the Rechabites, not to depart from the counsel of 
IV. their fathers, always abstained from wine. 8 We also honour 

De officiis filiorum erga parentes vid. Antonium Augustirmm lib. 10. tit 19. 
^ Gen. xlvi. 3 3 Kings ii. 19. 4 Proverbs i. 8, 9. 

s Ephes. vi. 1. Col. iii. 20. "> Gen. xxii. 9- 

8 Jerem. xxxv. 6. 

On the Fourth Commandment. 275 

our parents by the imitation of their good example : i.o study 
the life of another, as a model for imitation, is the highest mark 
of esteem. We honour them when we not only ask but follow V. 
their counsels ; and also when we relieve their necessities, VI 
supplying them with necessary food and raiment, according to 
these words of the Redeemer : " why do you also transgress 
the commandments of God for your tradition ? For God said : 
Honour lather and mother ; and he that shall curse father or 
mother dying let him die. But you say ; whosoever shall say 
to father or mother, the gift whatsoever proceedeth from me, 
shall profit thee ; and shalt not honour his father or his mother ; 
and you have made frustrate the commandment of God for your 
own tradition." 1 

But if at all times it is our duty to honour our parents, this duty VII. 
becomes still more imperative, when they are visited by severe 
illness : we should then pay particular attention to what regards 
their eternal salvation, taking especial care that they duly receive 
the last sacraments, consoling them with the frequent conversa 
tion of pious and religious persons, who may strengthen their 
weakness, assist them by their counsel, and animate them to 
the hope of a glorious immortality ; that having risen above the 
concerns of this world, they may fix their thoughts and affections 
entirely on God. Thus blessed with the sublime virtues of 
faith, hope, and charity, and fortified by the sacraments of the 
Church, they will not only look at death without dismay, for 
death is the lot of all men ; but will hail it as the bright opening 
to a blessed immortality. 

Finally, we honour our parents when, after they have been VIII 
summoned from this world, we discharge the last offices of filial 
piety towards them, giving them an honourable interment, attend 
ing to the celebration of their obsequies, their anniversaries, the 
oblation of the holy sacrifice for the repose of their souls, and 
faithfully executing their last wills. 

But we are bound to honour not only our natural parents, but Otherswho 
also those who are entitled to be called fathers, such as bishops to^ ntitled 
and priests, kings, princes, and magistrates, tutors, guardians offi5S?S 
and masters, teachers, aged persons and the like, all of whom be honour- 
are entitled, some in a greater, some in a less degree, to share ed 
our love, our obedience, our assistance. Of bishops and other 
pastors St. Paul says: "Let the priests that rule well be Bishops 
esteemed worthy of double honour, especially they who labour arui P r est* 
in the word and doctrine." 3 What proofs of ardent love for JS e b d e 
the Apostle the Galatians must have given may be inferred from I. 
the illustrious testimony in which he has recorded their bene 
volence : " I bear you witness," says he, " that if it could be 
done, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and would 
have given them to me." 3 The priest is also entitled to receive II. 

1 Matt. xv. 3 . Subveniendum esse parentibus, vid. Basil, horn, de honore pa- 
rentum et in Hexam. horn. 9. Amb. lib. 5. Hexam. c. 1C. Cone. Gangr. can. 6. Vid. 
item dist. 86. raultis in locis Hier. lib. 2. Commentar. in Matt. Aug. lib. 1. qusest 
Evang. cap. 14. 2 i Tim. v. 17. 3 Gal. iv. 15 





aries to be 



When not 
tobe obey- 


the ooser- 

vance of 
this com- 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

whatever is necessary for his support : " Who," says St. 
Paul, " serveth as a soldier at his own charges ?"* " Give 
honour to the priests," says Ecclesiasticus, " and purify thyself 
with thy arms ; give them their portion, as it is commanded 
thee, of the first fruits and of purifications." 2 The Apostle also 
teaches that they are entitled to obedience : " Obey your pre 
lates, and be subject to them ; for they watch as being to render 
an account of your souls." 3 Nay, more, Christ himself com 
mands obedience even to wicked pastors : " Upon the chair 
of Moses have sitten the Scribes and Pharisees : all things, 
therefore, whatsoever they shall say to you, observe ye and do 
ye ; but according to their works do ye not, for they say and 
do not." 4 

1 he same rule is to regulate our conduct towards princes and 
magistrates, and all others to whose authority we are subject ; 
and the honour and obedience due to them are explained at large 
by t } ie Apostle in his Epistle to the Romans : 5 He also com 
mands us to pray for them ; 6 and St. Peter says : " Be ye 
subject therefore to every human creature for God s sake : 
whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent 
by him." 7 The honour which we render them is referred to 
God : it is paid to their exalted dignity, which is derived from 
and emblematic of the divine power; and in which we recog 
nise a superintending Providence, who has committed to them 
the administration of the State, and who makes use of them as 
the ministers of his power. 8 It is not that we respect the pro 
fligacy or wickedness of the man, should such moral turpitude 
debase the lives of public functionaries no ; we revere the 
authority of God with which they are invested. Therefore it 
is, and it may appear to some matter of surprise, that, be their 
sentiments towards us the most inimical, be their hostility the 
most immitigable, their personal enmity and hostility do not, 
however, afford a just cause to release us from the duty of sub 
missive respect to their persons and authority. Thus the Scrip 
tures record the important services rendered by David to Saul, 
at a time when David was the innocent object of his hatred : 
" With them that hated peace," says he, " I was peaceable." 9 
But should they issue a wicked or unjust mandate, they are on 
no account to be obeyed : such a mandate is not the legitimate 
exercise of power, but an act of perverse injustice. 

Having expounded these matters severally, the pastor will 
next consider the nature of the reward promised to the ob- 

,, , . -11 

servance oi this commandment, and its accordance with the 
duty of filial piety. It consists principally in length of days: 
lne y W | 1Q a i wa y S p reserve the grateful recollection of a benefit 

1 1 Cor. ix. 7. 

2 Eccl. vii. 33, 34. Decimas solvendas esse yid. Cone. Aurel. 1. c. 17. Matiscon. 
2. c. 5. Forojul. c. ultiin. Lat. Magn. c. 53. Trid. sess. 25. c. 13. vid. item multa ca 
pita 16. q. 1 et 7. et Tit. decimis in deer. D. Th. 2. 2. q. 87. 3 Heb. xiii. 17 

4 Matt, xxiii. 2. 3. s R O m. xiii. 6 1 Tim. ii. 2. 

- I Pet. ii. 13, 14. Vid. Tertull. in Apol. 0. 30 et 32. et ad Scap. c. 2. 

Vid. Aug. lib. 5. de civil Dei, c. 10, 11. 14, 15. > Ps. cxix. 7. 

On the Fourth Commandment. 27*< 

deserve to be blessed with its lengthened enjoyment ; and this 
children do, who honour their parents. To those from whom 
they received existence they gratefully acknowledge the obliga 
tion, and are therefore deservedly rewarded with the protracted 
enjoyment of that existence to an advanced age. The nature 
of the divine promise also demands explanation : it includes 
not only the eternal life of the blessed, but also the term of 
our mortal existence, according to these words of the Apostle : 
" Godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the 
life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Many very 
holy men, it is true, Job, 3 David, 3 Paul, 4 desired to die, and a 
long life is burdensome to the wretched ; 5 but the reward which 
is here promised is, notwithstanding, neither inconsiderable, nor 
to be despised. The additional words, " which the Lord thy 
God will give thee," promise not only length of days, but also 
repose, tranquillity, security, which render life happy ; for in 
Deuteronomy it is not only said, " that thou mayest live a long 
time;" but it is also added, " and that it may be well with 
thee ;" 8 words which the Apostle repeats in his Epistle to the 
Ephesians. 7 

These blessings, we say, are conferred on those only, on This re- 
whose piety God really deems it a reward to bestow them, ^i" ay " 
otherwise the divine promises would not be fulfilled. The conferred 
more dutiful child is sometimes the more short-lived ; either " , d ltifui 
because his interests are best consulted by summoning him aiu i 
from this world, before he has strayed from the path of virtue 
and of duty, according to these words of the Wise man : " He 
was taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding, 
or deceit beguile his soul ;" 8 or because, when the gathering n. 
storm threatens to burst upon society, carrying anarchy and 
ruin in its desolating career, he is called from the troubled 
scene, in order to escape the universal calamity. Thus, when 
God avenges the crimes of mortals, his virtue and salvation are 
secured against the dangers to which they might otherwise have 
been exposed ; or else, he is spared the bitter anguish of wit- HI. 
nessing the calamities of which, in such melancholy times, his 
friends and relations might become the victims. " The just 
man," says the Prophet, " is taken away from before the face 
of evil." 8 The premature death of the good, therefore, gives Note, 
just reason to apprehend the approach of calamitous days. 

But, if Almighty God holds forth rewards to remunerate filial Punish- 

dutifulness, he also reserves the heaviest chastisements to punish n 16 " 1 . ^ 1 
/.i. i . i i . . , violation, 

filial ingratitude and impiety : it is written : " He that curseth 

his father or mother shall die the death :" 10 " he that afflicteth 
his father and chaseth away his mother, is infamous and un 
happy :"" " he that curseth his father and mother, his lamp 
shall be put out in the midst of darkness ;" 18 " the eye that 
mocketh at his father, and that despiseth the labour of his mother 

lTim. iv. 8. ajobiii. sPs.cxix. 5. * Phil. ii. 17. 

- 2 Cor. v. 2. e Deut. v. 16. Eph. vi. 3. Wisd. iv. 10, 11. 

Isa. Ivii. 1. 10 Exod. xxi. 17. Lev. xx. 9. Prov. xix. 26. 12 Prov. xx. 20. 

278 Tlit Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

in bearing him, let the ravens of the brooks pick it out, and the 
young eagles eat it." 1 There are on record many instances 
of undutiful children, who were made the signal objects of the 
divine vengeance. The disobedience of Absalom to his father 
David did not go unpunished : he perished miserably : three 

Note. lances transfixed his body. 3 But of those who resist the spi 
ritual authority of the priest it is written : " He that will be 
proud, and refuse to obey the commandment of the priest who 
ministereth at that time to the Lord thy God, by the decree of 
the judge that man shall die." 3 

Duties of As, then, the law of God commands children to honour their 

parents to- parents and render them an obsequious obedience, so are there 
wards their TJ- i_- i t-i-ij L 

children, reciprocal duties which parents owe to their children, to bring 

them up in the knowledge and the practice of religion, and to 
give them the best precepts for the regulation of their lives ; 
that instructed in the truths of religion, and prepared to make 
these truths the guiding principles of their conduct through life, 
they may preserve inviolate their fidelity to God, and serve him 
in holiness. This duty of parents is beautifully illustrated in 
the conduct of the parents of the chaste Susanna. 4 The pastor, 
therefore, will admonish parents to be to their children models 
of the virtues, which it is their duty to inculcate, of justice, 
chastity, modesty, and, in a word, of every Christian virtue. 
Three He will also admonish them to guard particularly against three 

things to things, in which they but too often transgress. in the first 
be avoided , J . , 

l>y parents, place, they are not by words or actions to exercise too much 

I- harshness towards their children : this is the instruction of St. 
Paul in his Epistle to the Colossians : " Fathers," says he, 
" provoke not your children to indignation, lest they be discou 
raged." 5 Parental severity may, it is to be apprehended, break 
the spirit of the child, and render him abject and timid, afraid 
of every thing, and is therefore to be deprecated : instead of 
indulging intemperate passion, the parent should reprove in the 

II. spirit of parental correction, not of revenge. Should a fault be 
committed which requires reproof and chastisement, the parent 
should not, on the other hand, by an unseasonable indulgence, 
overlook its correction : children often become depraved by too 
much lenity and indulgence ; and the pastor, therefore, will 
deter from such criminal weakness, by the warning example of 
Heli, who, in the misguided fondness of a father s feelings, for 
got his duty to religion, and was in consequence visited with 

III. the heaviest chastisements. 8 Finally, in the instruction and 
education of their children, let them not follow the pernicious 
example of many parents, whose sole concern it is to leave 
their children wealth, riches, an ample and splendid fortune ; 
who stimulate them not to piety and religion, or to honourable 
and virtuous pursuits, but to avarice, and an increase of wealth ; 

1 Prov. xxi. 17. 2 Kings xviij. 14. 

3 Deut. xvii. 12. Vid. Clem, epist. 3. sub init. item ep. 1. etiam sul bit Ambr 
lib. 1. 2. oflic. c. 24. Hieron. epist 1. post med. vid. item 11. q. 3. c. 11 13. 
< Dan. xul 3. * Col. iii. 21. 6 1 Kings ii. 3, 4. 

On the Fifth Commandment. 279 

and who, provided their children are rich and wealthy, are re 
gardless of those qualities which would render them truly es 
timable, and secure their eternal salvation. Language cannot 
express, nor can thought conceive, any thing to exceed in 
turpitude the criminal conduct of such parents, of whom it 
is true to say, that instead of bequeathing wealth to their 
children, they leave them rather their own wickedness and 
crimes for an inheritance ; and instead of conducting them to 
heaven, lead them to perdition. The pastor therefore will 
impress on the minds of parents salutary principles for the 
guidance of their conduct, and will excite them to imitate the 
virtuous example of Tobias ;* that having thus trained up their 
children to the service of God, and to holiness of life, they may, 
in turn, experience at their hands abundant fruit of filial arTec- 
tion, respect, and obedience. 



THE great happiness proposed to the peacemakers, of being Utility and 
called " the children of God," should prove a powerful ex- necessity 
citement to animate the zeal of the pastor in explaining with j^thL" "" 
diligent accuracy the obligations imposed by this command- command 
ment. No means more efficacious can be adopted to promote ment 
peace and harmony amongst mankind, than the due and holy 
and universal observance of the law announced by this com 
mandment, if properly explained. Then might we hope that, 
united in the strictest bonds of union, mankind would live in 
perfect peace and concord. The necessity of explaining this 
commandment to the faithful is evinced by two considerations. 
Immediately after the earth was overwhelmed in universal de 
luge, the first prohibition issued by the Almighty was, that man 
should not imbrue his hands in the blood of his fellow man : 
" I will require the blood of your lives," says he, " at the 
hand of every beast, and at the hand of man." 3 In the next 
place, amongst the precepts of the Old Law expounded by our 
Lord, this commandment holds the first place, as may be seen 
by consulting the fifth chapter of St. Matthew, where the Re 
deemer says : " It has been said thou shall not kill," &c. 4 The Note, 
faithful should also hear with willing attention the exposition 
of a commandment, the observance of which must be the se 
curity of their own lives : these words, "Thou shall not kill," 
emphalically forbid the shedding of human blood ; and they 

Tob. iv. 2xod. xx. 13. Genii. 5. <Matt.v. 21. 

280 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

should be heard by all with the same pleasure as if God, ex 
pressly naming each individual, were to prohibit injury to bo 
offered him under a threat of the divine anger, and the heaviest 
chastisement of the divine wrath. As, then, the announce 
ment of this commandment must be heard with pleasure, so 
should its observance be to us a pleasing duty. 

Itsobliga- l n its development our Lord himself points out its twofold 
foldj^pro- obligation ; the one forbidding to kill, the other commanding us 
hibitory, to cherish sentiments of charity, concord, and friendship to- 

and man- war( ] s our enemies, to have peace with all men, and finally, to 
datory. . . . r . . , . , A , J . 

endure with patience every inconvenience which the unjust 

aggression of others may inflict. With regard to the prohibitory 
part of the commandment, the pastor will first point out the 
Exceptions limits which restrict the prohibition. In the first place, we are 
to the first. not prohibited to kill those animals which are intended to be 
the food of man : if so intended by Almighty God, it must be 
lawful for us to exercise this jurisdiction over them. " When," 
says St. Augustine, " we hear the words thou shalt not kill, 
we are not to understand the prohibition to extend to the fruits 
of the earth which are insensible, nor to irrational animals, 
which form no part of the great society of mankind." 1 
n. Again, this prohibition does not apply to the civil magistrate, 

to whom is intrusted power of life and death, by the legal and 
judicious exercise of which he punishes the guilty and protects 
the innocent. The use of the civil sword, when wielded by 
the hand of justice, far from involving the crime of murder, is 
an act of paramount obedience to this commandment which 
prohibits murder. The end of the commandment is the pre 
servation and security of human life, and to the attainment of 
this end the punishments inflicted by the civil magistrate, who 
is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend, giving secu 
rity to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these 
words of David : " In the morning I put to death all the wicked 
of the land ; that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity 
HI. from the city of the Lord." 8 In like manner, the soldier is 
guiltless who, actuated not by motives of ambition or cruelty, 
but by a pure desire of serving the interests of his country, 

IV. takes away the life of an enemy in a just war. 3 There are on 
record instances of carnage executed by the special command 
of God himself: the sons of Levi, who had put to death so 
many thousands in one day, were guilty of no sin : when the 
slaughter had ceased, they were addressed by Moses in these 
words : " you have consecrated your hands this day to the 
Lord." 4 

V. Death, when caused by accident, not by intent or design, is 
not murder : " He that killed his neighbour ignorantly," says 

1 De civit. Dei. lib. 1. c. 20. item de morib. Manich. lib. 2. c. 13--15. 

2 Ps. c. 8. Aug. epist 154. et citat 23. q. 5. cap. de occidendis. item epist. 54 et 
citatur ibid. cap. non est iniquitatis. Vide adhuc ibid, alia capita et D. Thorn. 2. 
2. q. 64. a. 2. etq. 108. a. 3. 

3 Aug. de civit. Dei. c. 26. citatus 23. q. 5. cap. miles. Vide item de bello D. 
Thorn. 2. 2. q. 40. per 4. art. 4 Exod. xxxii. 29. 

On the Fifth Commandment. 281 

the book of Deuteronomy, " and who is proved to have had no 
hatred against him yesterday, and the day before, but to have 
gone with him to the wood, to hew wood, and in cutting down 
the tree, the axe slipt out of his hand, and the iron slipping from 
the handle struck his friend and killed him, shall live." 1 Such 
accidental deaths, because inflicted without intent or design, in 
volve no guilt whatever, and in this we are fortified by the opi 
nion of St. Augustine : " God forbid," says he, " that what 
we do for a good or lawful end should be imputed to us, if, con 
trary to our intention, evil accrue to any one." 3 There are, Two cases 
however, two cases in which guilt attaches to accidental death : m which 
the one, when it is the consequence of an unlawful act ; when, ^ hes to 
for instance, a person strikes a woman in a state of pregnancy, accidental 
and abortion follows. The consequence, it is true, may not deattl 
have been intended, but this does not exculpate the offender, 
because the act was in itself unlawful. The other case is, when 
death is caused by negligence, incaution, or want of due circum 

If a man kill another in self-defence, having used every pre- VI. 
caution consistent with his own safety to avoid the infliction of 
death, he evidently does not violate this commandment. 

These are the instances in which human blood may be shed With these 
without the guilt of murder; and with these exceptions the pre- [he^rohC 8 
cept binds universally with regard to the person who kills, the bitory part, 
person killed, and the means used to kill. As to the person un |y er ^l 

, r in its obh- 

who kills, the commandment recognises no exception whatever, ga tion, 
be he rich or powerful, master or parent : all, without exception with re - 
of person or distinction of rank, are forbidden to kill. With |erson 
regard to the person killed, the obligation of the law is equally who kills, 
extensive, embracing every human creature ; there is no indi- {^. Person 
vidual, however humble or lowly his condition, whose life is the means 
not shielded by this law. It also forbids suicide. No man use <l K> 
possesses such absolute jurisdiction over himself as to be at 
liberty to put a period to his own existence ; and hence we find 
that the commandment does not say, " thou shall not kill an 
other," but simply, "Thou shalt not kill." Finally, if we con 
sider the numerous means by which murder may be committed, 
the law admits of no exception : not only does it forbid to take 
away the life of another by laying violent hands on him, by 
means of a sword, a dagger, a stone, a stick, a halter, or by ad 
ministering poison ; but also strictly prohibits the accomplish 
ment of the death of another by counsel, assistance, or any other 
means of co-operation. 

The Jews, with singular dulness of apprehension, thought Prohibits 
that to abstain from shedding human blood was enough to sa- 
tisfy the obligation imposed by this commandment. But the anger. 
Christian, who, instructed by the interpretation of Jesus Christ, 
has learned that the precept is spiritual, and that it commands 

1 Deut. xix. 

2 Vide Aug. epist. 154. et citatur 23. q. 5. c. de occidendis. Item vide multa 
capita dist- 5. D. Thorn, 2. 2. q. 64. a. 8. Trid Sess. 14. de reform, c. 7. 

24* 2 N 

282 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

us not only to keep our hands unstained, but our hearts pure and 
undefiled, will not deem such a compliance sufficient : him the 
Gospel has taught, that it is unlawful even to be angry with a 
brother: " But I say to you that whosoever is angry with his 
brother shall be in danger of judgment ; and whosoever shall 
say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of a council ; and 
whosoever shall say, thou fool, shall be guilty of the hell of 
fire." 1 From these words it clearly follows that he who is 
angry with his brother, although he may conceal his resent 
ment, is not exempt from sin ; that he who gives indication of 
that anger sins grievously ; and that he who dreads not to treat 
his brother with harshness, and to utter contumelious reproaches 
against him, sins still more grievously. 2 
Anger, This, however, is to be understood of cases in which no just 

when law- cause O f anger exists. To animadvert on those who are placed 
ml. . . r . 

under our authority, when they commit a fault, is an occasion 

of anger, which God and his laws permit ; but even in these 
circumstances the anger of a Christian should be the dictate of 
duty, not the impulse of passion, for we should be temples of 
the Holy Ghost, in which Jesus Christ may dwell. 3 Our Lord 
has left us many other lessons of instruction which regard the 
perfect observance of this law, such as " not to resist evil ; but 
if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the 
other; and to him that will contend with thee in judgment, 
- and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him ; and 

whosoever will free thee one mile, go with him other two."* 
Remedies From what has been already said, it is easy to perceive how 
against the propense man is to those sins which are prohibited by this 
ofthis com- c ommandment, and how many are guilty of murder, if not in 
mandment. fact, at least in desire. As then the sacred Scriptures prescribe 
remedies for so dangerous a disease, to spare no pains in making 
them known to the faithful becomes an obvious duty of the 
I. pastor. Of these remedies the most efficacious is to form a just 
conception of the wickedness of him who imbrues his hands in 
the blood of his fellow-man. The enormity of this sin is set 
forth by attestations of Holy Scripture as strong as they are 
numerous. In the inspired Volume God pours out the deepest 
execrations against the murderer, declares that of the very beast 
of the field he will exact vengeance for the life of man, com 
manding the beast that sheds human blood to be put to death. 5 
Note. And if the Almighty commanded man to abstain from the use 
of blood, he did so for no other reason than to impress on his 
mind the obligation of entirely refraining, both in act and de 
ll, sire, from the enormity of shedding human blood. The mur 
derer is the worst enemy of his species, and consequently of na 
ture : to the utmost of his power, he destroys the universal work 

1 Matt. v. 22. De ira vide Basil, horn. 10. Chrysost. horn. 29. ad pop. Antioch. 
D. Thorn. 22. qusest. 108. per totam. 

2 Vide Aug. de serm. Dom. in monte, lib. 1. D. Thorn. 2. 2. q. 158. a. 3. 

3 1 Cor. vi. 19. 

4 Matt. v. 39. Vide Aug. epist. 5. ad Mar. et de serm. Domini in monte, 
lib. 2. c. 20. = Gen. ix. 5, 6. 

On the Fifth Commandment. 283 

of God by the destruction of man, for whose sake God declares 
that he created all things : nay, as it is prohibited in Genesis 
to take away human life, because God created man to his own 
image and likeness, he, therefore, who destroys his image offers 
great injury to God, and seems, as it were, to lay violent hands 
on God himself! David, with a mind illumined from above, j^ote. 
deeply impressed with the enormity of such guilt, characterizes 
the sanguinary in these words : " Their feet are swift to shed 
blood." 1 He does not simply say, " they kill," but, " they 
shed blood ;" words which serve to set that execrable crime in 
its true light, and to mark emphatically the barbarous cruelty 
of the murderer. With a view also to describe energetically 
how the murderer is precipitated by the impulse of the devil 
into the commission of such an enormity, he says : " Their feet 
are swift." 

But the tendency of the injunctions of Christ our Lord, re- Mandatory 

tjarding the observance of this commandment, is, that we have P rt f* 
& & . . , command- 

peace with all men. Interpreting the commandment he says : ment , j n - 

" I: therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou re- culcates 
member that thy brother hath aught against thee ; leave there aj 1 /^^. 10 
thy offering, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother ; and 
then coming thou shall offer thy gift," &c. 3 In unfolding the 
spirit of this admonition, the pastor will show that it inculcates 
the duty of cherishing charitable feelings towards all without 
exception, feelings to which, in his exposition of this command 
ment, he will exhort with the most earnest solicitude, evincing, 
as they do most effectually, the virtue of fraternal charity. It 
will not be doubted that hatred is forbidden by this command 
ment, for, " whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer ;" 3 from 
this principle it follows as an evident consequence, that the 
commandment also inculcates charity and love ; and inculcating And also 
charily and love it must also enjoin all those duties and good the duties 
offices which follow in their train. " Charity is patient," says 
St. Paul; 4 we are therefore commanded patience, in which, as I. 
the Redeemer teaches, " we shall possess our souls." 5 " Cha 
rity is kind ;" 6 beneficence is, therefore, her companion and II 
hand-maid. The virtue of beneficence is one of very great 
latitude : its principal offices are to relieve the wants of the 
poor, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe 
the naked; and in all these acts of beneficence we should pro 
portion our liberality to the wants and necessities of their objects. 

These works of beneficence and goodness, in themselves TIL 
exalted, become still more illustrious when done towards an 
enemy, in accordance with the command of the Saviour : 
" Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you :" 7 " If 
thine enemy be hungry," says St. Paul, " give him to eat : if he 
thirst, give him to drink ; for doing this, thou shalt heap coals 
of fire on his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome 

I Ps. xiii. 5. 2 Matt. v. 24. 3 1 John iii. 1 5. 

4 1 Cor- xiii. 4. * Luke xxi. 19. 6 1 Cor. xiii. 4. 

7 Matt. v. 44. 

284 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

evil by good." 1 Finally, if we consider the law of charity, 
which is " kind," we shall be convinced that to practise the 
good offices of mildness, clemency, and other kindred virtues, 
is a duty prescribed by that law. 

But a duty of pre-eminent excellence, and that, too, which 
is the fullest expression of charity, and to the practice of which 
we should most habituate ourselves, is to pardon and forgive 
from the heart the injuries which we may have received from 
others. To a full and faithful compliance with this duty the 
Sacred Scriptures, as we have already observed, frequently 
admonish and exhort, not only pronouncing those who do so 
"blessed," but also declaring that, whilst to the sinner, who 
neglects or refuses to comply with this precept, pardon is 
denied by the Almighty, it is extended to him who discharges 
this duty of charity towards an offending brother. 2 But, as 
the desire of revenge is almost natural to fallen man, it be 
comes necessary for the pastor to exert his utmost diligence 
not only to instruct but also earnestly to persuade the faithful, 
that a Christian should forget and forgive injuries ; and as this 
is a duty frequently inculcated by theological writers, he will 
consult them on the subject, and furnish himself with the 
cogent and appropriate arguments urged by them, in order to 
be enabled to subdue the pertinacity of those, whose minds are 
obstinately bent on revenge. 8 

Three con- The three following considerations, however, demand par- 
to enforce ticular attention and exposition. First, to use every effort to 
forgiveness persuade him, who conceives himself injured, that the man of 
of injuries. w hom he desires to be revenged, was not the principal cause 
of the loss sustained or of the injury inflicted. This is ex 
emplified in the conduct of that admirable man, Job : when 
violently assailed by men and demons, by the Labeans, the 
Chaldeans, and by Satan, without at all directing his attention 
to them, as a righteous and holy man he exclaimed with no 
less truth than piety : " The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken 
away." 4 The words and the example of that man of patience 
should, therefore, convince Christians, and the conviction is 
most just, that whatever chastisements we endure in this life 
come from the hand of God, the fountain of all justice and 
mercy. He chastises us not as enemies, but, in his infinite 
goodness, corrects us as children. To view the matter in its 
true light, men, in these cases, are nothing more than the minis 
ters and agents of God. One man, it is true, may foster the 
worst feelings towards another: he may harbour the most 
malignant hatred against him ; but, without the permission of 
God, he can do him no injury. Hence Joseph patiently en 
dured the wicked counsels of his brethren, 5 and David the 

1 Rom. xii. 20. 

2 Vide Deut. xxxii. 35. item 1 Reg. 25. 32, 33. item 26. 6. 7 8. 9. item 2 Reg. 19. 
20. Ps. 7. 5. Eccl. xxviii. per totum. Isa. Iviii. 6. Matt. vi. 14. et in Evarigelio 
passim. Vide item Tertul. in Apol. c. 31 et 37. Aug. in Joan tract. 81. lib. 50. horn. 
Horn. 6. item ser. 61 et 168. de temp 

3 Vid. quse citantur numero 18. 4 Job i. 21. 6 Gen. xlv. 5. 

On the Fifth Commandment. 285 

injuries inflicted on him by Semei. 1 To this also applies an 
argument which St. Chrysostome has ably and learnedly 
handled : it is that no man is injured but by himself. 3 Let the 
man, who considers himself injured by another, consider the 
matter calmly and dispassionately, and he will feel the justness 
of the observation : he may, it is true, have experienced injury 
from external causes ; but he is himself his greatest enemy, by 
wickedly contaminating his soul with hatred, malevolence, and 

The second consideration to be explained by the pastor em- II. 
braces two advantages, which are the special rewards of those, 
who, influenced by a holy desire to please God, freely forgive 
injuries. In the first place, God has promised that he who 
forgives shall himself obtain forgiveness ; 3 a promise which 
proves how acceptable to God is this duty of piety. In the 
next place, the forgiveness of injuries ennobles and perfects 
our nature ; for by it man is, in some degree, assimilated to 
God, " who maketh his sun to shine on the good and the bad, 
and raineth upon the just and the unjust." 4 

Finally, the disadvantages which arise from the indulgence m 
of revenge are to be explained. The pastor will place before 
the eyes of the unforgiving man a truth which has the sanction 
of experience, that hatred is not only a grievous sin, but also 
that a continued habit of indulgence renders it inveterate. The 
man, in whose heart this passion has once taken deep root, 
thirsts for the blood of his enemy : day and night he longs for 
revenge: continually agitated by this perverse passion, his mind 
seems never to repose from malignant projects, or even from 
thoughts of blood ; and thus phrensied by hatred, never, or at 
least not without extreme difficulty, can he be induced gene 
rously to pardon an offending brother, or even to mitigate his 
hostility towards him. Justly, therefore, is revenge compared 
to a festering wound, from which the weapon has never been 

There are also many evil consequences, many sins which 
follow in the train of this gloomy passion. Hence these words 
of St. John : " He that hateth his brother is in darkness and 
walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, be 
cause the darkness hath blinded his eyes." 5 He must therefore 
frequently fall ; for how, possibly, can any one view in a 
favourable light the words or actions of him whom he hates ? 
Hence arise rash and unjust judgments, anger, envy, deprecia 
tion of character and other evils of the same sort, in which 
are often involved those who are connected by ties of friendship 
or blood ; and thus does it frequently happen that this one sin 
is the prolific source of many. 

Hatred has been denominated " the sin of the devil," and Hatred tie- 
not without good reason : the devil was a murderer from the ""^ e of 

the devil. 

1 2 Kings xvi. 10. 

2 Tom. 3. in hom. quod nemo lasditur nisi a seipco. 

3 Matt, xviii. 33. 4 Matt. v. 48. a 1 John ii. 1 ] 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

beginning ; and hence our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Goa, 
when the Pharisees sought his life, said, that " they were be 
gotten of their father the devil." 1 

Remedies But besides the reason already adduced, which afford good 
grounds for detesting this sin, other and most efficacious reme- 
dies are prescribed in the pages of inspiration ; and of these 
remedies the first and greatest is the example of the Redeemer, 
which we should set before our eyes as a model for imitation. 
When scourged with rods, crowned with thorns, and finally 
nailed to a cross, lie, in whom even suspicion of fault could not 
be found, " the sprinkling of whose blood speaketh better than 
that of Abel," 3 poured out his last breath a prayer for his exe 
cutioners : " Father," says he, " forgive them, for they know 
not what they do." 3 

Another remedy prescribed by Ecclesiasticus is to call to 
mind death and judgment: " Remember thy last end, and thou 
shalt never sin ;"* as if he had said : frequently and again and 
again reflect that you must soon die, and, as at the hour of 
death you will have occasion to invoke the infinite mercy of 
God, his pardon and peace, you should now, and at all times, 
place that awful hour before your eyes, in order to extinguish 
within you the consuming fire of revenge ; for, than the for 
giveness of injuries and the love of those who may have in 
jured you or yours, in word or deed, you can discover no 
means better adapted, none more efficacious to obtain the mercy 
of God. 




n.ent oc 
curs, pro 
priety of. 

Order in As the bond which subsists between man and wife is one of 
which this strictest union, nothing can be more gratifying to both than to 
command- ^ now t ] iat t h e y are objects of mutual and undivided affection ; 
and as, on the other hand, nothing inflicts deeper anguish than 
the alienation of the legitimate love which they owe to each 
other, this commandment, which prohibits concubinage and 
adultery, follows with propriety, and in order, that which pro 
tects human life against the hand of the murderer. It pro 
hibits to violate or sunder, by the crime of adultery, the holy 
and honourable union of marriage, a union which is generally 
the source of ardent affection and love. 

John viii. 44. 
Eccl. vii. 40. 

2 Luke xxiii. 34. 
6 Exod. xx. 14. 

3 Heb. xii. 24. 

On the Sixth Commandment. 287 

In the exposition of this commandment, the pastor has oc- Extreme 
casion for extreme caution and prudence, and should treat with caution 
great delicacy a subject which requires brevity rather than co- dencene- 
piousness of exposition ; for there is great reason to apprehend, cessary in 
that by detailing too diffusely the variety of ways in which the e ^P? s . i * 
men depart from the observance of this law, he may perhaps command- 
light upon those things, which, instead of extinguishing, serve ment. 
rather to inflame corrupt passion. As however the precept 
contains many things which cannot be passed over in si 
lence, the pastor will explain them in their proper order and 

This commandment, then, resolves itself into two heads ; the Resolves 
one expressed, which prohibits adultery; the other implied, j tsel ( nt j 
which inculcates purity of mind and body. 1 To begin with First head 
the prohibitory part of the commandment, adultery is the defile 
ment of the lawful bed, whether it be one s own or another s : 
if a married man have criminal intercourse with an unmarried 
woman, he violates the integrity of his marriage bed ; and if 
an unmarried man have intercourse with a married woman, he 
defiles the sanctity of the marriage bed of another. 

But that every species of licentiousness and every violation Prohibits 
of chastity are included in this prohibition of adultery, is proved p? r y v " 
by the concurrent testimonies of St. Augustine and St. Am- chastity. 
brose, 2 and that such is the spirit of the commandment is an 
inference borne out by the authority of the Old as well as of the 
New Testament. In the writings of Moses, besides adultery, 
other sins against chastity are punished: the book of Genesis 
records the judgment of Judah against his daughter-in-law : 3 
" that there should be no harlot amongst the daughters of Is 
rael," is an excellent law of Moses, found in Deuteronomy :* 
"Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication," 5 
is the exhortation of Tobias to his son ; and in Ecclesiasticus 
we read : " Be ashamed of looking upon a harlot." 8 In the 
Gospel, too, Christ the Lord says: "From the heart came 
forth adulteries and fornications, which defile a man ;" 7 and the 
Apostle Paul expresses his detestation of this crime frequently, 
and in the strongest terms : " This," says he, " is the will of 
God, your sanctification ; that you should abstain from fornica 
tion :" 8 " Fly fornication :" 9 "Keep not company with forni- 
cators." 10 " Fornication, and all uncleanness and covetousness, 
let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints :"" 
" Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor hers 

1 Vide 32. q. 4. c. meretrices ; item ibid, multa alia capita; item Amb. de Abra 
ham, c. 4. Hier. contr. Jovin. lib. 1. et2. item in cap. 5. epist ad Gal. ad ilia verba, 
manifest, autem ; item in c. 5. ad Ephes. ad ha?c yerba, viri ! diligite ; Aug. de bono 
conjug. c. 16 et lib. 22. contra Faust, cap. 47, 48. item in quasi. Deut. q. 37. ad cap 
23. iterum Amb. in serm. de St. Joan, qui sic incip. diximus superiore Dominica 
est, 65. item. Greg, in moral, lib. 12. c. 21. D. Thorn. 1. 2. q. 100. a. 5. et 2. 2. 
q. 122. a. 6. 

2 Arnb. lib. 1. officior. 1. c. 50, in fine. Aug. quaes. 71. super Exod. 

3 Gen. xxxviii. 14. 4 Deut. xxiii. 17. * Tob. iv. 13. 

6 Eccl. xli. 35. i Matt. xvi. 19. 8 1 Thess. iv. 3 

9 1 Cor. vi. 18. 10 1 Cor. v. 9. " Eph. v. 3. 



tion to the 


against the 
violation of 
this com 


Tlie, Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

with mankind shall possess the kingdom of God." 1 But adultery 
is thus strictly forbidden, because to the turpitude common 
alike to it and to other excesses it adds the sin of injustice, not 
only against our neighbour, but also against civil society. Cer 
tain it also is, that he, who abstains not from other sins against 
chastity, will easily fall into the crime of adultery. By the 
prohibition of adultery, therefore, we at once see that every 
sort of immodesty, impurity, and defilement is prohibited ; nay 
that every inward thought against chastity is forbidden by this 
commandment is clear, as well from the very force of the law, 
which is evidently spiritual, as also from these words of Christ 
our Lord : " But I say to you, that whosoever shall see a wo 
man to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her 
in his heart." 3 

This is the outline of those things which we have deemed 
proper matter for public instruction : to it, however, the pastor 
will add the decrees of the holy Synod of Trent against adul 
terers, and those who keep harlots and concubines ; 3 omitting 
many other species of immodesty and lust, of which each in 
dividual is to be admonished privately, as circumstances of time 
and person may require. 

We now come to explain the positive part of the precept. 
The faithful are to be taught, and earnestly exhorted, to cul 
tivate with zealous assiduity, continence and chastity, "to 
cleanse themselves from all defilements of the flesh and of the 
spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God." 4 The virtue 
of chastity, it is true, shines with a brighter lustre in those 
who, with holy and religious fidelity, lead a life of perpetual 
continency : an ordinance in itself admirable, in its origin di 
vine : yet it is a virtue which belongs also to those who lead a 
life of celibacy ; or who, in the married state, preserve them 
selves pure and undefiled from unlawful desire. The Holy 
Fathers have delivered many important lessons of instruction, 
which teach to subdue the passions, and to restrain sinful plea 
sure : the pastor, therefore, will make it his study to explain 
them accurately to the faithful, and will use the utmost dili 
gence in their exposition. 3 

Of these instructions some relate to thoughts, some to ac 
tions. The remedy prescribed against sins of thought consists 
in our forming a just conception of the turpitude and evil of this 
crime ; and this knowledge will lead more easily to the con 
siderations which prompt to its detestation. The evil of this 
crime we may learn from this reflection alone ; by its com 
mission, the perpetrator is banished and excluded from the 
kingdom of God ; an evil which exceeds all others in mag 
nitude. This calamity is, it is true, common to every mortal 
sin ; but to this sin it is peculiar, that fornicators are said to 
sin against their own bodies, according to the words of St. 2 Matt. v. 27, 28. 

i Sess. 24. c. 24. de reform. * 2 Cor. VH. 1. 

Vid. D. Thorn. 2. 2. q. 151- Trid. 24. de matrim. c. 3. et sess. 2D. de regular. 

On the Sixth Commandment. 269 

Paul: "Fly fornication: every sin that a man doth is without 
the body ; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against 
his own body." 1 The reason is, that, by violating its sanctity, 
he does an injury to his own body ; and hence the Apostle 
writing to the Thessalonians says : " This is the will of God, 
your sanctification ; that you should abstain from fornication, 
that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel 
in sanctification and honour; not in the passion of lust, like the 
Gentiles that know not Gpd." a Again, it is an aggravation of HI. 
the sinner s guilt, that by the foul crime of fornication, the 
Christian makes the members of Christ the members of an har 
lot, according to these words of St. Paul : " Know you not 
that your bodies are the members of Christ ? Shall I then 
take the members of Christ and make them the members of 
an harlot ? God forbid ; or know you not, that he who is 
joined to an harlot is made one body ?" 3 Moreover, a Chris- iv. 
tian, as St. Paul testifies, is " the temple of the Holy Ghost ;" 4 
and to violate this temple, what is it but to expel the Holy 

But the crime of adultery involves that of grievous injustice. Adultery a 
If, as the Apostle says, they who are joined in wedlock are so grievous 
subject to each other, that neither has power or right over his llljust 
or her body, but both are bound, as it were, by a mutual bond 
of subjection, the husband to accommodate himself to the will 
of the wife, the wife to the will of the husband ; most certainly 
if either dissociate his or her person, which is the right of the 
other, from him or her to whom it is bound, the offender is 
guilty of an act of flagrant injustice, and of a grievous crime. 5 

As dread of infamy strongly stimulates to the performance Brands the 
of duty, and deters from the commission of crime, the pastor adulterer 
will also teach that adultery brands its guilty perpetrators with fa n U in " 
an indelible stigma: " He that is an adulterer," says Solomon, 
" for the folly of his heart shall destroy his own soul : he 
gathereth to himself shame and dishonour, and his reproach 
shall not be blotted out." 6 

The grievousness of the sin of adultery may be easily in- i ts g r ; e . 
ferred from the severity of its punishment. According to the vousness 
law promulgated by God in the Old Testament, the adulterer ^red from 
was condemned to be stoned to death ; 7 and even for the crimi- the severi- 
nal passion of one man, (the facts are recorded in the inspired tyofitspu- 
Volume) not only the perpetrators of the crime, but also, as we m j. 
read with regard to the Sichemites, 8 sometimes the inhabitants 
of an entire city have been destroyed. The Sacred Scriptures 
abound with examples of the divine vengeance invoked by such 
crimes ; such as the destruction of Sodom and of the neigh 
bouring cities, 9 the punishment of the Israelites who committed 
fornication in the wilderness with the daughters of Moab, 10 and 

HCor. vi. 18. 2 1 Thess. iv. 3 5. 3 1 Cor. vi. 15, 16. 

4 1 19. 5 1 Cor. vii. 4. 6 Prov. vi. 32. 

7 Levit, xx. 10. jo i 1 viii. 5 Gen. xxxiv 25. 9 Gen. xix. 24. 

OJNum. xxv. 4. 

25 2 

590 On the Sixth Commandment. 

the slaughter of the Benjamites j 1 examples which the pastoi 
will adduce to deter from similar enormities. 

H. The punishment of death may not, it is true, always await 

such criminality ; but it does not therefore always escape the 
visitations of the divine wrath. The mind of the adulterer is 
frequently a prey to agonizing torture : blinded by his own 
infatuation, the heaviest chastisement with which sin can be 
visited, he is lost to all regard for God, for reputation, for 
honour, for family, and even for life ; and thus, utterly aban 
doned and useless, he is undeserving of confidence in any matter 
of moment, and incompetent to the discharge of duty of any 
sort. Of this we find signal examples in the persons of David 
and of Solomon. David had no sooner fallen into the crime 
of adultery than he degenerated into a character the very re 
verse of what he had been before ; from the mildest of men 
becoming a monster of cruelty, and consigning to death Urias, 
a man who had deserved well of him ; 2 whilst Solomon, having 
abandoned himself to the lust of women, abandoned the true 
religion, to follow strange gods. 3 This sin, therefore, as Osee 
observes, plucks out the heart, and often blinds the under 

Remedies We now come to the remedies which are applicable to this 

against the mora i disease. The first is studiously to avoid idleness : for, 

eenceof" according to Ezekiel, it was by yielding themselves up to its 

the ilesh. enervating influence, that the Sodomites plunged into all the 

turpitude of the most base and criminal lust. 5 In the next place, 

II. intemperance in eating and drinking is carefully to be avoided : 

" I fed them to the full," says the prophet, " and they committed 

adultery."" Repletion and satiety beget lust, as our Lord in 

timates in these words : " Take heed to yourselves, lest per 

haps your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunken 

ness ;" 7 " Be not drunk with wine," says St. Paul, " wherein 

Hi is luxury." 8 But the eyes, in particular, are the inlets to cri 

minal passion, and to this refer these words of our Lord ; " If 

thine eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee." 9 

The prophets, also, frequently speak to the same effect: " 

made a covenant with mine eyes," says Job, " that I would 

not so much as think upon a virgin." 10 Finally, there are on 

record innumerable examples of the evils which have their 

origin in the concupiscence of the eyes : to it we trace the fall 

of David j 11 the king of Sichem fell a victim to its seductive 

influence ; 13 and the elders, who became the false accusers of 

the chaste Susanna, afford a melancholy example of its baneful 

J il*G C ts * ^ 

Too much ornamental elegance of dress, which solicits the 
eye, is but too frequently an occasion of sin ; and hence the 


Judges xx. 2 2 Kings xi. and xii. sSKingsxi 

4 Osee iv. 1 1. 5 Ezek. xvi. 49. 6 Jf em. v. 7. 

7 Se xxi 31. Ephes. v. 18. 

in T -1 HO Ifino-a vi 9 

10 Job xxxi 1. " * lungs xi. 6. 
13 Dan. xiii. 8. 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 291 

admonition of Ecclesiasticus : "Turn away thy face from a 
woman dressed up." 1 A passion for dress often characterizes 
female weakness : it will not, therefore, be unseasonable in the 
pastor to give some attention to the subject; mingling reproofs 
with admonition, in the impressive words of the Apostle Peter: 
" Whose adorning," says he, " let it not be the outward plait 
ing of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of 
apparel;" 2 and also in the language of St. Paul: "Not with 
plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire." 3 Many females, 
adorned with gold and precious stones, have lost their only 
true ornament, the gem of female virtue. 

Next to the excitement of desire, usually provoked by too y. 
studied an elegance of dress, follows another, which is indecent 
and obscene conversation. Obscene language is a torch which 
lights up the worst passions of the young mind ; and an in 
spired Apostle has said, that "evil communications corrupt 
good manners." 4 Indelicate and lascivious songs and dances VI. & VII 
seldom fail to produce the same fatal effects, and are, therefore, 
cautiously to be avoided. In the same class are to be num- VI11 - 
bered soft and obscene books : possessing, as they do, a fatal 
influence in exciting to filthy allurements, and in kindling 
criminal desire in the mind of youth : they are to be shunned 
as pictures of licentiousness, and incentives to turpitude. 5 

But to avoid with the most scrupulous care the occasions of IX. X. 
sin, which we have now enumerated, is to remove almost every *xin IL 
excitement to lust ; whilst frequent recourse to confession and 
to the Holy Eucharist operates most efficaciously in subduing 
its violence. Unceasing and devout prayer to God, accom 
panied by fasting and alms-deeds, has the same salutary effect. 
Chastity is a gift of God : H to those who ask it "aright" he de 
nies it not ; nor does he suffer us to be tempted beyond our 
strength. 7 But the body is to be mortified, and the sensual 
appetites to be repressed not only by fasting, and particularly, 
by the fasts instituted by the Church, but also by watching, 
pious pilgrimages, and other penitential austerities. By these 
and similar penitential observances is the virtue of temperance 
chiefly evinced ; and in accordance with this doctrine, St. 
Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says : " Every one that 
striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things ; and 
they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we 
an incorruptible one ;" 8 and a little after ; " I chastise my 
body, and bring it into subjection, lest, perhaps, when I have 
preached to others, I myself should become reprobate ;" and in 
another place; "Make not provision for the flesh in its con 
cupiscence." 9 


i Eccl. ix. 8. 21 Pet. iii. 3. 3 ] Tim. ii. 9. 1 1 Cor. xv. 33. 

"> Parochus imprimis curet, ut quse de sacris imaginibus a Sacrosancto Concilio 
Tridentino pie religioseque constitituta sunt, ea sanctissime serventur. Vid. sess, 
25. dccret. de invocal, &c. vener. et. sacris inrmgin. i> 1 Cor. vii. 7. 

7 1 Cor. x. 13. Vid. Tert. de Monog. in fine IXazianz. oraf. 3. Basil, do virg. ultra, 
medium. Chrys. et Hieron. in c. 16. Matt. Aug. lib. 6. confess, c. 11. 

11 1 Cor. ix. 25. 9 Rom. xiii. 14. 

292 T7ie Catechism of the Council of Trent. 



The obser- THAT, in the early ages of the church, it was usual to impress 
vance of O n the minds of the faithful the nature and force of this com 
mandment rnandment, we learn from the reproof uttered by the Apostle 
strongly m- against some who were most earnest in deterring others from 
culcatedin vices, in which they themselves were found freely to indulge : 
age s e of y "Thou therefore," says he, "that teachest another, teachest 
the church: not thyself: thou that preachest that men should not steal, 
rac^ce^o stea l est -" a The salutary effect of such instructions was, not 
be followed only to correct a vice which was then very prevalent, but, also, 
inourdays. to repress turbulent altercations, and other causes of mischief, 
which generally grow out of theft. It is a melancholy truth, 
that in these our days men are unhappily addicted to the same 
vice : the peace of society is still frequently disturbed by the 
mischiefs and calamities consequent to theft ; and the pastor, 
therefore, following the example of the Holy Fathers, and the 
masters of Christian discipline, will urge this point, and will 
explain with care and assiduity the force and meaning of this 

This com- In the first place, the care, diligence and industry of the pas- 
i^roof of * ^ or vv ^ ^ e exerc i se( l m unfolding the infinite love of God to man : 
the love of not satisfied with having fenced round our lives, our persons, our 
God to- .reputation, by means of these two commandments, " thou shall 
andVclaim not kill," " thou shall not commit adultery;" he defends, and, as 
on our it were, places a guard over our property, by adding the prohi- 
gratitude. bition, " Thou shalt not steal." Other meaning these words 
cannot have than that which has been already mentioned in ex 
pounding the other commandments : they declare that God for 
bids our worldly goods, which are placed under his sovereign 
protection, to be taken away or injured by any one. 3 Our gra 
titude to God, its author, should, then, be proportioned to the 
magnitude of the benefit conferred on us by this law ; and, as the 
truest test of gratitude, and the best means of returning thanks 
to God, consists not alone in lending a willing ear to his pre 
cepts, but, also, in putting forth in our lives practical evidence of 
our sincere approval of them, the faithful are to be animated and 
inflamed to a strict observance of this commandment. 
Division of Like the former precepts, this also divides itself into two 

the com- parts : the one, which prohibits theft, is mentioned expressly ; 
mandment. r ~ , , , . , P T , . ,,. , ,., ,.. ,f . 

of the other, which enforces kindliness and liberality, the spirit 

Exod. xx. 15. 2 Rom. ii. 21. 

3 Vid. D. Thorn. 1. 2. q. 100. art. 3 et 2. 2. q. 122. art. 6. 

On the Seventh Commandment. 293 

and force are implied in the former. We shall therefore begin 
with the first: "Thou shalt not steal." It is to be observed, "Theft," 
that by the word " theft" is understood not only the taking definition 
away of any thing from its rightful owner, privately and with- 
out his consent ; but also, the possession of that which belongs 
to another, contrary to the will, although not without the know 
ledge, of the true owner. That the detention of the property 
of another, under these circumstances, constitutes theft is un 
deniable, unless we are prepared to say, that he who prohibits 
theft does not also prohibit rapine, which is accomplished by 
violence and injustice ; whereas, according to St. Paul, " ex 
tortioners shall not possess the kingdom of God j" 1 and the 
same Apostle declares, that extortion of every sort is to be 
avoided. 3 

Although rapine, which, besides the deprivation of his pro- "Rapine"a 
perty, offers a violent outrage to the injured party, and subjects mor g"ev- 
him to insult and contumely, is a more grievous sin than theft, 3 ""an^t h^ft 
yet it cannot be matter of surprise, nor is it without good reason, the latter 

that the divine prohibition is expressed under the lighter name vvhy , men " 

,. 1^,, i tioriect in 

ot " theft, not under the heavier one of " rapine : theft is the corn- 
more general and of wider extent than rapine ; a crime of which mandment. 
they alone can be guilty, who are superior to their neighbour 
in brute force. It is obvious, however, that when lesser crimes 
are forbidden, greater enormities of the same sort are also pro 
hibited. 4 

The unjust possession and use of what belongs to another Different 
are expressed by different names. To take any thing private denorn i nfl 
from a private individual is called " theft ;" from the public, theft. 
peculation: to enslave and appropriate the freeman or servant I-&I1 
of another is called "man-stealing:" to steal any thing sacred m - 
is called " sacrilege ;" a crime the most enormous and sinful Iy 
of all, yet so common in our days, that what piety and wisdom 
had appropriated to the divine worship, to the support of the 
ministers of religion, and to the use of the poor, is employed 
in satisfying the cravings of individual avarice, and converted 
into a means of ministering to the worst passions. 

But, besides actual theft, the will and desire are also forbidden A desire of 
by the law of God: the law is spiritual: it regards the soul, J- t e e j prohl " 
the principle of our thoughts and designs : " From the heart," 
says our Lord, " come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, 
fornications, thefts, false testimonies."* 

The grievousness of the sin of theft is sufficiently seen by Grievous- 
tlie light of natural reason alone: it is a violation of justice ness ofthe 

i i , . T J sin of theft 

which gives to every man his own. In order that every man, i. 
unless we dissolve all human society, may securely possess 
what he has justly acquired; it is necessary that stability be 
given to the distribution and allotment of property, fixed, as it 
has been, by the law of nations from the origin of society, and 

1 Cor. vi. 10. 2 Vid. Aug. q. 71. in Exod. et citatur. 32. q. 4. c. meretrices. 
3 1 Cor. v. 10. 4 Vid. D. Thorn, c. 2. 66. art. 4 et 9. item 14, q. 4. c. pccnale. 
5 Matt. xv. 19. 


and diffi 
culty of 

sorts of 

294 The Catechism of the Council of Trent. 

confirmed by human and divine laws. Hence these words of 
the Apostle/" Neither thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, 
nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of 
God." 1 The long train of evils, however, which theft entails 
upon society, are an attestation at once of its mischievousness 
and enormity. It gives rise to hasty and rash judgments: it 
engenders hatred : originates enmities ; and sometimes subjects 
the innocent to cruel condemnation. 

What shall we say of the necessity imposed by God on all 
of satisfying for the injury done ? " Without restitution," says 
St. Augustine, " the sin is not forgiven." 2 The difficulty of 
making such restitution, on the part of those who have be^n 
in the habit of enriching themselves with their neighbour s pro 
perty, we may learn not only from experience and reflection, 
but also from the testimony of the prophet Habaccuc : "Wo 
to him that heapeth together what is not his own. How long 
also doth he load himself with thick clay ?" 3 The possession 
of other men s property the prophet calls " thick clay," from 
which it is difficult